If you think because it’s February there is still a month before you need to ramp up your gardening activities, think again. Here are some gardening tasks to perform in advance of spring.

  • Drench citrus trees for aphids, Asian citrus psyllid, whitefly and leafminer with labeled products containing imidacloprid.
  • Spray citrus trees for rust mites. This will reduce the possibility of the leaves becoming a sickly green and the skin of the fruit turning brown.
  • Submit a soil sample and follow the recommendations to improve vegetable production and landscape performance.
  • Plant cool season herbs such as cilantro and dill.

What a wonderful way to enjoy mosquito-free evenings by grilling salmon or fajita chicken and beef with fresh, homegrown herbs.

  • Prune rose plants and crape myrtle trees to maintain overall size and shape while promoting healthy flowering.
  • Plant gladiolus in late February. Prolong the blooming season by planting at two- to three-week intervals through late March.
  • Mulch shrub and flower beds to minimize weed problems and conserve soil moisture during summer months. An option to buying mulch, such pine needles, is to drive around on garbage day and pick up other people’s collected and bagged leaves.

You may have to sort through a few unwanted items such as large sticks, but it’s well worth the mulch.

Watch azaleas in February and March for lace bugs. They cause the foliage to have numerous small white spots as they feed underneath lower foliage. Control with horticultural oil sprays, imidacloprid or acephate.

  • A late winter planting of petunias will provide a good flower show for early spring. Consider the Wave, Tidal Wave and Supertunia series.
  • February is the ideal time to fertilize trees. Trees in their first 10 years after planting generally benefit the most from fertilization. Trees in low vigor also should be fertilized.

Wave petunias

Are you a Tidal Wave fan? Do you enjoy the latest colors, such as Easy Wave Burgundy Star or Shock Wave Denim? Or do you love a classic, such as Wave Purple?

Did you know this year Wave Purple will celebrate its 18th birthday? How did it all begin? Here are some interesting facts about Wave petunias.

Wave Petunia was bred by a Japanese beer company. Beer and wine companies often employ horticulturists who grow plants for the many flavors and components that go into making their products.

Back in the 1990s, a company was exploring opportunities for wine-grape breeding when it uncovered a vigorous spreading petunia growing wild like a weed.

After many seasons of tackling and taming that plant, the breeder was able to produce a seed-raised spreading petunia – resulting in the first Wave Purple.

The Wave Purple petunia was introduced to American home gardeners when it won an All-America Selections award in 1995.

The rest is history. Soon, more colors were introduced to the Wave petunia series, such as Blue and Misty Lilac.

Then in 2001, Tidal Wave petunia emerged on the scene with award-winning Tidal Wave Silver.

Next was frilly Double Wave petunia in 2002. Basket-friendly Easy Wave petunia was introduced to gardeners in 2003, and further breeding advancements brought Shock Wave petunia to market in 2009.

Don’t help termites

While fall and winter are excellent times for adding hardy trees, shrubs and ground covers to the landscape, these seasons also are times to be cautious about creating problems that could bring termites into your home. LSU AgCenter experts offer these suggestions to reduce the possibility of termite problems:

  • Place gutters and slope your landscape beds so water drains away from your house.
  • Keep mulch in beds adjacent to the house pulled back about 12 inches from the foundation.
  • Do not add fill dirt around the foundation or under porches or steps without contacting your termite company for retreatment.
  • Do not disturb the chemical barrier at the base of the slab or around pilings by digging into it during bed preparation.

Promptly remove all scrap wood and wooden debris from the landscape such as felled tree branches and old firewood.

  • Pine straw appears to be the mulch that is least attractive to termites. Avoid using wood chips to mulch beds adjacent to the house or other structures.
  • Use metal edging, decorative bricks or border plants to edge your beds. Avoid landscape timbers and other wooden materials that may serve as food for termites.
  • When watering, avoid spraying water against the foundation of your house.
  • Leave at least 2 inches of space between your house and a deck or other wooden structure outside. Build decks and other structures on concrete pads and treat around the pads and posts.
  • Do not allow clinging vines, such as English ivy or creeping fig, to grow on the wall of your house.

Got a gardening question? Write to Bob Souvestre, horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter, at Burden Center, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809, or email to bsouvestre@agcenter.lsu.edu, or call Master Gardeners at (225) 763-3990.