Southern California cities average about seven days of rainy weather in February, meaning there are still plenty of sunny days to plant trees and shrubs and prepare gardens for spring.
Here is a handy set of February gardening tips from Agromin, a Southern California manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products made from organic material.
Plant trees, shrubs
Planting trees and shrubs is relatively simple. First, dig a hole twice as wide but just as deep as the tree's root ball. If the soil is mostly clay or compacted, dig a hole three times as big and amend the soil—this will encourage the tree's roots to spread out.
Place the root ball in the hole—the top of the root ball should be even with the top of the hole—and add soil until the hole is about two-thirds full. Water and let the soil settle. Add a thick layer of mulch to keep in moisture, but don't let the mulch touch the trunk. Water as needed during periods without rain.
Avoiding staking new trees
Unless the newly planted tree is in a windy area, do not stake the tree, and if you must, do so for no longer than a year. Movement helps strengthen the trunk and stimulates root growth. While a staked tree may grow taller faster, its root system may be less developed and its trunk weaker.
Plant warm-weather flowers
Once the danger of frost has passed, plant warm-season flowers like marigolds, petunias and already-blooming plants such as violas, snapdragons, calendulas and primroses. They provide instant color.
Select healthy plants at the nursery
Watch for signs of an unhealthy plant before you make your purchase at the local nursery or home center. Otherwise, your garden may not be as successful, despite your best efforts.
Wilted or yellow leaves could mean an illness or not enough water. Long stems without much leaf growth are an indication the plant has been in its container too long. While flowers on a plant may look nice in the store, too many blooms mean the plant is devoting too much energy into creating those flowers—and could go into shock once transplanted. Roots poking out of the bottom of the plant are another sign a plant has been in its pot too long and is experiencing stress. Weeds in the pot are not a good sign—it means the plant is sharing the soil nutrients with an unwanted guest.
Plant California native shrubs
Plant California native plants—many of which are ready to bloom—in February. Native plants include creeping sage, varieties of manzanita, California morning glory, ceanothus rigidus snowball, maritime California lilac and wooly blue curls.
Get a jump on weeds
Even during mostly dry winters, weeds will find a way to grow. Remove them by hand or with a hoe before they get too big. Once they go to seed, it will take much longer to remove them.
Cover your garden with two or three inches of mulch to keep new weeds from growing.
Water potted plants
The winter sun can quickly dry out both indoor and outdoor potted plants. Water outdoor potted plants so the soil remains moist, especially if the weather has been dry for seven to 10 days.
Indoor plants can dry out just as quickly, especially if exposed to sunlight or warm air from heaters or fireplaces.