Transplant spring- and summer-blooming perennials such as ‘Henry Duelberg’ mealy blue sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’, Zones 8–10), spring obedient plant (Physostegia intermedia, Zones 6–9), and square-bud primrose (Calylophus berlandieri, Zones 7–9). If there is no rainfall, water them deeply and regularly while they get established. A 3-inch layer of mulch will keep them protected from extreme temperatures and from drying out.
February is pruning month, so sharpen your Felcos and get started. Roses (Rosa spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) need their annual heavy pruning around Valentine’s Day in Texas. (A second, lighter pruning can be done in August.) Remove all dead wood and diseased canes. Cut back healthy canes to just above the bud. Now is also a great time to prune trees and summer- to fall-blooming shrubs while they are still dormant and their branches are easily visible. Just make sure to finish pruning before they start to leaf out, and don’t forget to paint the wounds on oak trees (Quercus spp. and cvs., Zones 4–10) susceptible to oak wilt.
Test your irrigation system and make sure it’s in working order before your garden explodes into growth next month. Keep in mind how busy March is in the garden, and do everything you can to prepare for that. Testing your irrigation system or making changes to your irrigation setup now will give you more time to plant and sow next month.
Work your beds and prepare them for next month’s planting by weeding, turning the soil, and adding organic matter. Now is a good time for a compost delivery, which you can use in your flower beds and in your vegetable garden. It’s also good to have mulch on hand, because you will need it for dressing your beds as you plant them this month and next.
In the vegetable garden, it’s planting time for brassicas and for potatoes. In central Texas we plant potatoes around Valentine’s Day. Wait until the end of the month if you live in more northern areas. The brassica vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and collards can be transplanted two weeks before the last frost. It’s important to get these particular crops in early so that they are not stunted by the heat that will descend upon us in May and June.
—Karen Beaty is a horticulturalist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.