February Garden Tips


You can plant vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, parsley, spinach, corn, collards, beans, eggplant, cucumber, squash, endive, kohlrabi, turnips, radishes, lettuce, celery, beets, broccoli, onions, potatoes, peas, cauliflower, mustard, Chinese cabbage and cabbage. Annuals such as marigold, salvia, vinca, impatiens, nasturtiums, cosmos, celosia, gloriosa daisy, portulaca, ageratum, begonia, dianthus, petunia, alyssum, candytuft and hollyhock can also be planted. Woody plants can be set out now if there is an adequate water supply. Most bulbs can be put out now such as canna, agapanthus, tuberose, caladium, eucharis, calla, daylily, amaryllis, allium, lily, rain lily, montbretia, watsonia, crinum and ginger. 

Scale and mealybugs are active now. Check sago palms, hibiscus, ixora, gardenia, copperleaf and chenille plant for activity. Tomatoes have hornworms and various fungal/wilt problems. Keep the foliage dry and water in the morning only. Wet weather aggravates these conditions. Spider mites continue to be busy, particularly if plants are located under eaves. Hose off leaves to blast the pests off. 

If a freeze is expected, water plants thoroughly the day before. Pull mulch back from plants so warmth from the soil will radiate up to the plants. Leave dead leaves and branches in place to protect the plants from future possible cold snaps. Remove dead leaves and branches in mid-March when cold weather is past. 

This is a good time for landscape renovation, weeding as well as general cleanup and removal or restraining of aggressive plants. Beware of running heliconias, costus and bamboo, which can 

spread rapidly. The clereodendroms are also rapid spreaders, but are pretty if restrained. Snowbush is another sneaky customer that drops suckers all over the place. Be leery of the big vines such as sky vine, air potato, moon vine, wood rose etc. that can cover telephone poles and climb through dog doors. 
Green Thoughts: It's disturbing to see perfectly good plants returned to nurseries and garden shops because people think they are "dead." I was at a local nursery recently and saw a perfectly healthy azalea returned because it was finished blooming and new leaves were emerging. The purchaser insisted that the plant was no good and wanted her money back. This brings to mind someone who buys a dress, wears it to a party and returns it the next day claiming it's the wrong size. This behavior is just not kosher, folks, and it means we all pay more for plants in the long run. 

Brazilian Red Cloak (Megaskepasma erythrochlamys

Brazilian Red Cloak (Megaskepasma erythrochlamys)

This plant has an unfortunate name _ Brazilian Red Cloak hardly helpful for its marketing. The scientific name is even worse Megaskepasma erythrochlamys. Despite the unappealing names, this is an attractive shrub. Its large glossy oval pointed leaves are topped by red spires of bloom from late fall through early summer. It can bloom all year with good fertilization. But be careful where you plant it. Its big leaves wilt easily and are pale green in full sun. The same plant in moist shade is spectacular. The only disadvantage is the size of this big grower 15 feet tall and 10 feet across is not impossible. The density of the shrub quickly eliminates objectionable views. Plant 6-8 feet apart for fast results. 

  • Origin Brazil to Venezuela
  • Foliage Large shiny, ribbed, oval pointed leaves 
  • Nutritional requirements It's not fussy about fertilizer as long as it has shade and moisture.
  • Salt tolerance Poor
  • Drought tolerance Poor to medium after establishment 
  • Light requirement Low to medium 
  • Growth rate Fast 
  • Propagation Seed, cuttings, seedlings
  • Major problems Mealybugs and scale, which are rare on healthy plants 
  • Environmental problems None 


All rights reserved. Reproduction or translation  of any part of this work beyond that permitted by Section 107 of the United States Copyright Act of 1976 without the permission of the copyright owner is unlawful. [Section 107 allows use of the copyrighted work for the purposes of teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, research, criticism, comment, or news reporting.] Written requests for permission  should be addressed to DePalma Enterprises,  Inc., 2117 NE 17th Terrace, Wilton Manors, FL. 33305