by Lawrence Rozas, President
February is an ideal time for the proactive native gardener to accomplish several tasks that will pay off later in the year. Planning a new garden, thinning and transplanting perennials, maintaining prairies, pruning trees and shrubs, and removing invasive species are all activities to consider during this month.
Consider converting more lawn to native landscape this year. Whether you envision a new flower bed, pocket prairie, or wooded area, begin by designing a landscape plan (samples on our website). Revisit this column in our October newsletter for an overview of how to get a landscape plan started. Select the plants for the new area based on site conditions (e.g., sun exposure, soil conditions). Identify a source for the plants you want, purchase the number of each species you desire, and plant them. The end of the best planting season (late fall – winter) for trees and shrubs is fast approaching. Planting before the end of February will allow trees and shrubs enough time to become established before our stressful Louisiana Summer.
February also is a good time to divide perennials such as purple coneflower and gulf coast penstemon. Surplus plants can be rearranged and spaced out within flower beds, transplanted to other parts of the garden, or shared with friends.
Prairies also require some attention this month. No matter the size of your prairie, mowing or burning should be carried out before native plants begin to emerge in response to warmer spring weather. Mowing and burning discourages non-native vegetation and gives the edge to prairie natives as they compete with non-natives for light and nutrients.
Pruning should be completed this month before deciduous plants begin to leaf out. Examine trees and shrubs. Remove dead, broken or deformed branches. Consider thinning dense branching by removing inward-growing limbs. Pruning may also be needed for some plants to achieve a desired shape or form.
February is a good month to remove invasive plant species in your landscape. For example, the green foliage of Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) and Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense) really stand out this time of the year when most plants are dormant. Honeysuckle vines and privet seedings are easily uprooted by hand, especially after a rain when the soil is wet and spongy.
From ANPP February 2021 Newsletter.