February 2018
It's Starting to Feel a Lot Like Spring...Winter...Spring
February in Hampton Roads - that time of year when the weather can't make up its mind. Gardeners are yearning for spring, which is still 43 days away. This month can still be a productive one in the garden - both for planning and doing. Finish up most pruning chores by the end of the month, mark boundaries for new beds, and take soil samples to prepare for planting season.

Begin looking at your roses this month. Prune away dead, broken, or diseased canes as soon as possible, cutting back to a cross section with no signs of discoloration. Roses can be pruned to shape or maintain appropriate size, but timing is important. Roses can generally be pruned in February and March, so look at the buds to determine the correct timing. Prune when the buds begin to swell using sharp pruners to make clean, even cuts at a slant so that water runs off the cut stem. It is a good idea to disinfect pruning shears as you work by dipping into a 70% alcohol solution. This will help prevent the spread of disease from one rose bush to another. For more information on rose care, selection, and pruning, see this publication from North Carolina State Extension.

A new invasive insect was spotted in Virginia in January 2018. The Spotted Lanternfly was found in Frederick County. This insect has the ability to spread rapidly when introduced to a new area due to its having over 70 host plants and no natural native enemies. Virginia Cooperative Extension has released a Fact Sheet concerning this pest, which includes reporting instructions if you think you see evidence of the insect. See below for photos of the Spotted Lanternfly at different life stages. Both the adult and immature stages feed on phloem and excrete honeydew, which contributes to the formation of sooty mold and often attracts other insects.

Happy Gardening!

Have gardening questions? Help is available year round through the Master Gardener Help Desk by calling 757-385-8156 or email your question to vbmghelp@vbgov.com
The gray smear in the first photo is the Spotted Lanternfly egg mass. The second photo shows two stages of immature insects, and the last two photos show the adult with wings folded and unfolded to display full color. Photo credit: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org.
January in the Garden
Butterfly Bush
Crape Myrtle
Evergreen Holly
Leyland Cypress
Red Twig Dogwood
Deciduous Holly
Southern Magnolia
Rose of Sharon
Hydrangea (summer blooming)

Bibb lettuce
  • Look for pests or damage on branches and bark exposed after leaves have fallen
  • Order seeds now for the best selection
  • Use warm days to catch up on general garden chores left over from fall and winter
  • Divide perennials while still dormant
  • Clean & sharpen gardening tools
Common Name: Lenten Rose
Scientific Name: Hellaborus orientalis
Bloom Time: winter - early spring
Color: various, white, pink, purple, yellow, green
Size: 1.5 x 1.5 ft
Zone: 4-9
Native range: Greece, Turkey, Russia
Growing Conditions: Part to full shade
Common Name: Lady bug or Lady beetle
Scientific Name:  Coccinellids
Time of Year Active: spring to early winter
Where to See Them: Trees & herbaceous plants, often in proximity to aphids or other prey.
Benefits: Lady beetles are predators and both the larval stage and adult feed on aphids. Some species also feast on mites.

If you start plants from seed indoors, February marks the 8-10 weeks before last frost window. Follow instructions for sowing on the individual seed packets.

Upcoming Events
Feb 16 & 17 - Creating a Backyard Habitat workshop
Work with certified VCE Virginia Beach Master Gardeners to develop a landscape plan that supports beneficial wildlife.         
9:00 am - 12 noon; HRAREC
Free, but registration required at habitat3.eventbrite.com

Feb 24 - Tree Talks
Pruning & planting basics, with information on tools, & tree & shrub care.
8:30 am - 2 pm; HRAREC
Feb 26 - From the Ground Up - 5 Steps to Vegetable Gardening
Gil Gillespie, VCE Norfolk Master Gardener
Successful vegetable gardening starts with planning & preparation, goes through selection and planting, and ends with good eating. Free and Open to the Public; No Registration Required. Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library, 4100 Virginia Beach Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23452; 7-8pm.

Mar 10 - 1st Rain Barrel Workshop of 2018
All rain barrel workshops are held at the Virginia Beach Farmer’s Market, 3640 Dam Neck Rd., 9 - 10am.    

Plan Ahead
Mar 24 - Workshop - Irrigation for Your Home Garden (registration opens Feb. 24)

Mar 26 - Gardening Talk - Perennially Yours

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Jill Wright at 757-385-4769 during the business hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to discuss accommodations 5 days prior to the event. TDD number (800) 828-1120.  
Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.