Everything is dry. As most winters go, the Tampa Bay Area has not had much rain this winter. You have seen the brown lawns, palms and flowers. Several cold snaps hit the bay area early this year. Rain and warm temperatures will make us green again but that will not happen for a few months. Most lawns and shrubs are dormant at this time and require little maintenance.
What can be done about cold damage? Wait to trim, fertilize, and replant tropicals. Winter may last into mid March. If March is warm, trimming and fertilizing can be done. A good rule of thumb, is wait until we hit eighty degrees for a few consecutive days. Always keep sod and shrubs watered during this time. Dry lawns and plants take longer to recover.
Planting cold tolerant flowers (annuals) add color to our otherwise brown landscape. Geranium, snapdragon, pansy, petunia, and alyssum are great choices and will last into May. Impatiens and begonia are good choices as well but much less cold tolerant. Beds should first be cleared of leaves and debris and a fresh layer of mulch should be added. Mulch will keep weeds out and moisture in. You might try a “layered” effect with taller flowers in the background and shorter flowers in the foreground. Geraniums in the background and petunias in the foreground is one example. A mix of colors or one main color can create the desired effect. Keep pastels and strong, vivid colors separate.
Hardy trees and shrubs can be planted at this time. Trees include Oak, crape myrtle, camphor and holly. Most shrubs can be included here if cold tolerant. Trees and shrubs can acclimate during these cooler months before the heat of summer sets in. A great time to install a new lawn is February or March as well. Newly planted trees, shrubs and lawns need watering about twice a week during this time.
Containerized gardens thrive during this time of year. Terra cotta, concrete, plastic or fiberglass/resin type of pots can be used. They vary in size, weight and cost. Herbs can be grown successfully in containers. These might include rosemary, basil, parsley, fennel or oregano. Vegetables can be grown in containers as well. These might include tomatoes, onions or peppers. The most common container gardens would include a variety of flowers. In the cooler months, excellent choices would include geranium, salvia, begonia, petunia, alyssum and pansy. Be sure to keep pots watered one or two times a week depending on temperature and location. Containers are an easy way to garden, add color in the winter and are easy to replace each season.
Trim roses back to one half size
Plant hardy, winter annuals
Fertilize trees, palms, shrubs and flowers in March Fertilize sod in mid February
Check and repair irrigation systems in March Plant spring vegetables