Your Monthly Garden Chores

Here's what to do in February and March to tend to your plants


  • Prune roses. Remove dead or damaged canes back to the ground. Remove crossed or rubbing canes. Take care not to remove more than one-third of the canes on the shrub. Cut back overall size by no more than one-third. Repeat over the next two years to rejuvenate overgrown rose bushes.
  • Plant potatoes. Local nurseries will have seed potatoes that do well in our area, along with instructions on how to plant them.
  • Give your citrus trees their first dose of fertilizer for the year.



  • Fertilize non-citrus fruit trees.
  •  Wait until April to fertilize your lawn; the soil is still too cool to absorb the nutrients.
  • Set out tomato plants, but be prepared to cover them in case of a late frost or freeze.
  • Watch for pests on new growth on perennials and shrubs, and use an insecticidal soap as needed.
  • Give your citrus trees their first dose of fertilizer for the year.

Pesky Pests: Witch’s Horse


A two-striped walking stick

Witch’s Horse  If you’ve ever encountered the two-striped walking stick, you’ll probably remember it. Anisomorpha buprestoides emits a strong milky substance when threatened that can cause painful irritation to the eyes and mucus membranes. Fortunately, copious amounts of cool water will ease the irritation, and symptoms should disappear within a few days. The two-striped walking stick is a member of the stick insect family. It is also known by more exotic names including: devil’s riding horse, prairie alligator, witch’s horse, musk mare and devil’s darning needle. It can be found throughout Florida and the Gulf Coast, as well as in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and in parts of Mississippi and Louisiana. Like all stick insects, it feeds on the leaves of shrubs and trees. It is particularly fond of azaleas, crape myrtles and roses. Wear gloves to pick them off and put them in a plastic newspaper bag to smother them. Make sure you wear protective eyewear to thwart the spray.

©2018 Postscript Publishing, all rights reserved. Audrey Post is a certified Advanced Master Gardener volunteer with the University of Florida IFAS Extension in Leon County. Email her at or visit her website at Ms. Grow-It-All® is a registered trademark of PostScript Publishing Inc.

Categories: Gardening