Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 2012

Prune or Cut-Back Perennials. I have written previously about pruning trees, shrubs, vines and roses but February is the month to think about your perennials. Leaving them until now provides you with winter interest and provides overwintering birds with seed. Once you see some new growth coming from the base you know it is time to get started. Herbaceous perennials, those that die back in the winter, should be taken all the way to the ground and any dead or damaged leaves removed from the crown. The mulch that has been protecting them can be left until they start to grow more vigorously. If any of these perennials are overgrown and did not bloom well during their previous flowering season they may need to be divided. See "Divide Perennials" from March 2011. If you live in a colder area you will want to wait until the end of the month to do this.

Plan your vegetable garden. This is a good time to plan your spring/summer vegetable garden. If you will be planting cool season vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage you will want to start them indoors from seed now so that you can plant them out in mid to late March. Seed any warm season vegetables by the 1st of March for a May 1st planting. If you don't have the space, time, energy or inclination to start seeds indoors we will have vegetable plants when we open on March 27th as well as our 2012 Lake Valley and Pagano seeds. Think about mixing your vegetables with some herbs and flowers that will attract beneficial insects. We have a list of when to plant what and all of the amendments you need to get your garden off to a good start.

Buddleia davidii. Almost everyone loves the Butterfly Bush. A fast growing, low water, deciduous shrub with  spike-like clusters of flowers summer through frost that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. What's not to like? It makes a quick screen or informal hedge and can be used as an anchor in a perennial bed or as an accent. The varieties include 'Black Knight' that has dark purple flowers and can reach 8' tall, 'Pink Delight' with light pink blooms and a shorter 6' height, 'Royal Red' also topping out at 6' with purple-red flowers and 'White Profusion' with, you guessed it, white blooms. There are also two relatively new varieties that we are growing. One is a Proven Winners cultivar called Lo & Behold 'Blue Chip'. It has the same fragrance and floriferous quality of its brothers but only reaches 2-2 1/2' tall and 2' wide and bears purple-blue flowers. The other is 'White Ball' which is also a dwarf growing to 3' by 3'. It has small white flowers and a compact rounded form. The petite size of these shrubs makes them perfect for containers, as a ground cover or in a small patio where a larger variety would be too overpowering. All of the Buddleia davidii  Butterfly Bushes are cold hardy to USDA zone 5 or 20 degrees below zero. Since they bloom on new wood they should be pruned in the same way as Lilac and Forsythia in that you will remove 1/3 of the oldest woodiest growth to the ground each winter.
Proven Winners, Buddleia Lo & Behold 'Blue Chip'