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2 Gardening Tips for February in the Texas Coastal Bend by Kitty Angell

Carefree Beauty
New Dawn Roses
"February is the month when all our “Rosarians” break out their newly sharpened pruning shears and get to work on their beloved roses. A good rule of thumb is to wait until after Valentine’s Day (February 14) to lessen the
chance of a frost.

The ecosystem of the coastal bend is a duel one, making it harder for people who live on the sandy beach to grow roses. It is much easier for those living only a mile or so inland where there is less wind, salt air, and a different soil makeup. Almost all roses in our area should be planted in full sun. They need raised beds rich in fertile, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil.

For those who want to try growing roses, it is good to know that there are several groups with different types of growing habits. There is the shrub type such as “Carefree Beauty”, a vigorous upright rose with olive-green leaves and clusters of cup-shaped, semi-double, fragrant bubble-gum pink flowers that bloom from spring to fall. They grow from 3ft. to 6 ft. with a spread of 1 ft. to 3 ft.

For those who want a climbing rose, there is “New Dawn”, a gorgeous soft pink rose that grows aggressively from 10 to 20 feet high. If you want a climber and don’t have space for this rose, you can train “Buff Beauty”, a rich, buff apricot with a tea-rose fragrance, to be a small climber.

Each year the “Texas Rose Rustlers” find more and more antique roses that were left to perish in Grandma’s back yard. If you’re interested in more information about antique varieties of rose, visit their site at www.texasroserustlers.com.

Even though there are some salt-tolerant roses like Knock-out and Belinda’s Dream, I’ve joined many of my neighbors and become interested in succulents. The difference in texture, shape, and color is as exciting as a rose! I have learned to enjoy the exotic blooms of my succulents while not worrying so much about wind damage and growing in a sandy soil.

Donkey’s Ears Kalanchoe Gastonis
Donkey’s Ears Kalanchoe gastonis is one of my favorites, because it is a “baby making machine.” I’ve created a rock garden using this plant primarily, as well as supplying young Donkey Ears for the Master Gardener Plant sale; plus it gets beautiful coral star shaped blooms. Other succulents that add interest to my beach abode include: Senecio Kilimanjaro, Paddle Plant Kalanchoe luciae, Elephant bush or miniature jade plant, Kalanchoe tomestosa fuzzy wuzzy, and Echeveria elegans, just to name a few. Most can be found in our area garden stores, but many have been given to me by friends. 

Spring vegetable seeds should be sewn by early to mid-February. They include beans, corn, broccoli, cucumbers, melons, peppers and tomatoes. According to Texas A&M AgriLife, the most popular spring varieties are Blue Lake 274, Contender, and Topcrop bush green beans; Green Magic broccoli; Perlita and TAM Uvalde cantaloupe; and Celebrity, Sunmaster, and Solarfire tomatoes. Since our area is still in a drought, you will need to do supplemental watering to grow vegetables here.

Now is the time to transplant mature or established trees and shrubs while they are dormant. You can also plant bare-root roses and fruit trees. Regarding bare-root plants, you are better off selecting a small to medium specimen as it will become established faster. Don’t fertilize newly set out trees or shrubs until after they have started to grow, and then only lightly the first year. Roses, on the other hand, are different. A newly planted rose could stand a good drink of one percent solution of seaweed. Seaweed is a natural root stimulator that has all the micronutrients the roses need. You can also use this seaweed solution on new tomato transplants as it will enhance germination of seeds. Always spray early in the morning with temperatures are cool.

Herbaceous perennials and hardy ornamental grasses may be cut back at this time. Let the weather warm up a little and look for new growth on citrus and semi-tropical plants to remove damaged material.
Kitty Angell is a Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener.



Kitty, I really enjoy your articles and find them very helpful. Now that you have almost completed the year with articles for each month, do you find it hard to come up with more tips? Or does information evolve throughout the year that the topics "pour" out. Keep up the great work! - Arlene Grisbeck


Luckily for me, I have a wealth of information available because I am a Master Gardener with the Texas AgriLife Extension Services under the Texas A&M University system! We have a constant stream of new and innovative ideas and programs that come our way from the horticulturists and scientists in our state. There are other Internet options to use and TEXAS GARDENS is a wonderful magazine to keep up-to-date. Thanks for the compliment. I feel my job is done well when I can get new information to the public. Kitty

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