Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 25, 2013

PLATEAU GARDENING: Get ready for gardening

By C. Rae Hozer
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Some are predicting an early spring this year. Those who watched in vain for a shadow on Groundhog Day agree. Gardeners who delay late-winter and early-spring tasks may miss their window of opportunity.

Wondering what needs to be done outdoors before springtime greenery pops in your landscape? The monthly University of Tennessee Gardens eNewsletter’s "Gardening Tips" section by Jason Reeves, a research horticulturist and curator of the UT Gardens Jackson location, is an excellent guide to seasonal yard and garden work. Sign up at the UT Gardens website at to have this informative publication delivered to your email Inbox. Mouse-click the orange square containing the words “Receive our eNewsletter > Sign up” located on the right-hand side of the UT Gardens home page.

February 2013 Tips

English peas and sugar snap peas with edible pods need to flower and set fruit before it gets too hot. Direct sow peas in garden during February and early March.

Cut back or tidy leaves on early flowering plants like Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis and its hybrids), Barrenwort (Epimedium) and Lungwort (Pulmonaria) before new growth appears.

Trim tattered leaves and stems on foliage plants like monkey grass (Liriope). Use a lawn mower or string trimmer for large drifts of this evergreen plant in the lily family.

Taller ornamental grasses like Miscanthus, Pennisetum, Mexican feather grass, switch grass and muhly grass left standing in autumn to provide winter landscape interest should now be cut to three to six inches above the soil line.

Use dormant oil to eliminate scale or other insect pests on woody ornamentals as well as on fruit and nut trees prior to spring growth and when air temperatures are within the range prescribed on the product label for the particular species being treated.   

Prune dead and diseased branches on trees and shrubs whenever temperatures get above freezing. Second priority should go to removal of rubbing or crossed branches.

Wait to trim spring-flowering and early summer-flowering shrubs like azaleas, Forsythia, Spirea and mophead hydrangea until soon after they bloom, if your objective is to reduce plant size or shape them. (The exception is cutting branches of pussy willow, Forsythia, flowering quince, redbud and star magnolia to bring indoors to force early blooms.)

Spot-control weeds in dormant warm-season lawn by pulling them or by applying a broadleaf weed control.

Garden Events Calendar

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show — Thursday, Feb. 28 through Sunday, March 3 at the fairgrounds. Get tickets at or at gate. Admission is $10 for adults and $9 for seniors. Presentations will be provided by horticultural, landscape design and gardening experts. There will be exhibitors, a floral design gallery and live gardens featuring spring flowers, plants, waterfalls and fountains, and outdoor living spaces. For more information, call (615) 876-7680.

2013 Rose Seminar — March 2 at UT Knoxville Agriculture campus Plant Biotech Building from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Topics will be rose-growing basics, organic fertilizers, knockout roses, companion plants for roses, rose propagation, pests and diseases, rose rosette disease and rose chemicals and their safe use. See for more details, map and to pre-register ($15). Admission is $20 at the door.

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Plateau Gardening is written by Master Gardeners for gardeners in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland Region. Contact UT Extension Cumberland County at P.O. Box 483, Crossville, TN 38557 (484-6743) for answers to horticulture questions, free publications and how to become a Master Gardener. Send email comments or yard and garden inquiries to Master Gardener Rae,