February marks the transition from winter to spring. Although the chill may persist, promising signs of the upcoming new season are scattered throughout. Bulbs cautiously break through the soil, and daylight gradually begins to appear.
Despite these hints of spring, however, February retains the potential for harsh weather, including rain, severe frosts, and occasional snow. Therefore, starting to sow too soon could be a problem. Still, if you are wondering what other gardening jobs you can take on in February, we have a list for you to follow. Just read on…
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Planting in February
February is a great time to start planning your garden layout and sowing flower and vegetable seeds. More detailed instructions you can find below.
February is not too early to start planting flowers and if you are wondering which ones exactly, here are some ideas and planting tips:
- In milder weather, divide clump-forming perennials. Plant healthy new divisions in freshly dug soil. Additionally, address overcrowding by digging up and repositioning any shrubs or perennials that have outgrown their current space.
- Divide your snowdrops in February and plant the new plantlets in beds or containers.
- Sow summer bedding plants in February like geraniums, petunias, impatiens (busy Lizzie), and nicotiana in a propagator, heated greenhouse, or windowsill (at 21°C). To prevent damping, sow them thinly and don’t overwater.
- Soak the anemone bulbs overnight before planting them indoors. If you want to plant anemones outside, wait until March or April.
- Ensure a minimum temperature of 4ºC for overwintering tender perennials, such as fuchsias and pelargoniums.
- Transplant overgrown shrubs in February.
In the vegetable garden, several tasks await your attention:
- Start the chitting process for your first early potatoes. Lay them out in trays until they sprout. Keep them cool, well-lit, and frost-free, and prepare them for planting by the end of the month.
- Sow seeds indoors for crops such as cabbage (for summer/autumn maturity), celery, herbs, sweet and hot peppers, tomatoes, leeks, onions, and shallots.
- Now is the time to build raised beds. Raised beds warm up faster and provide efficient drainage, making them ideal for handling clay soils.
- Plant early carrot varieties outdoors under cloches or in a cold frame. Additionally, you can sow broad bean and parsnip seeds outdoors this month.
What to prune in February?
Head into the garden to trim some flowers, shrubs and trees.
- You still have ample time to prune your Rhododendrons while they are dormant.
- Trim your wisteria by pruning, and trimming back the summer side shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
- Some climbers, like group 2 clematis, might need pruning by the end of the month.
- Take cuttings from your overwintered chrysanthemums in February.
- Trim summer-flowering clematis towards the end of the month, before active growth.
- Get rid of the gooseberry side shoots, leaving only two or three buds. Trim back shrubs, including Cornus and Salix cultivars, to their bases.
- Trim back overwintered fuchsias to one or two buds on each shoot.
- After winter-flowering jasmine blooms, trim it to promote new growth. Cut back the previous year’s growth to 5 cm from the old wood.
- Prune winter-flowering shrubs like mahonia and viburnum bodnantense after their vibrant display concludes.
- For autumn fruiting, prune raspberry canes to the ground. Also, trim the tips of summer-fruiting raspberry canes that have extended beyond the top of their supports, cutting just above a bud.
- Trim blackcurrant bushes, gooseberries, and redcurrants, focusing on maintaining a productive framework for optimal fruiting.
- Prune deciduous hedges before bird nesting season.
- Cut back vines like ivy, Virginia creeper, and Boston ivy. It’s easier to keep roof tiles, windows, and gutters clear if you trim them now.
- Make sure you cut back trees like apples and pears before spring growth kicks in next month. You’ll get healthier trees and better fruit.
- To prevent Silver Leaf disease, delay pruning plums, cherries, and apricots until summer.
Protecting the plants
- February is the time to cover your rhubarb crowns with forced covers, promoting tender shoot growth. Additionally, it’s an excellent opportunity to lift and separate congested rhubarb clumps.
- Winterise apricots, nectarines, and peaches while ensuring pollinators have access to them. Strike a balance to safeguard against frost damage while allowing vital pollinators to reach the flowers.
- Use cloches to cover outdoor strawberries, promoting earlier harvests.
- Prune away yellowing leaves from brassicas, including Brussels sprouts, to prevent brassica downy mildew and grey mould.
- Keep up with slug control measures to protect your plants.
- Watch out for whiteflies. To get rid of the infestation, spray any affected plants or cuttings.
Feeding and improving the soil
- Mulch around fruit trees using well-rotted manure or garden compost, being cautious not to create mounds around the trunk. Healthy trees need nutrients, moisture, and a cool soil temperature.
- Mulch perennial vegetables such as asparagus and artichokes with well-rotted manure or compost.
- As a top dressing, apply a potassium-rich slow-release fertilise to fruit bushes.
- Spread compost or well-rotted manure over your beds’ soil. Two weeks before sowing, cover the soil with a single layer of polythene or fleece to warm it up.
- Get your vegetable seed beds ready by clearing out all weeds and incorporating ample compost. To enhance soil warmth and moisture retention for spring planting, cover the prepared soil with black plastic sheets.
Clearing dead vegetation
- Remove dead leaves and flowers from plants regularly. Get rid of any diseased parts. Eliminate faded flowers from winter pansies to prevent seed setting, promoting a fresh burst of blooms as the weather warms.
- You can extend the flowering of pansies and other winter bedding plants by regularly removing faded flowers.
February lawn care tasks
No need to wonder what can you do with the lawn this month because there are a few important tasks to cover, such as:
- Get your lawn ready for spring. Installing lawn edging will not only provide a neat appearance but will also make maintenance tasks more manageable.
- Now is a good time to dig over the area where you want to sow a new lawn in the spring.
- Brush away any unsightly worm casts from existing lawns with a stiff broom, besom broom, or rake.
- Now’s the time to service your lawn mower if you haven’t already.
- Level up any hollows or raised spots in your lawn.
- As for whether you can cut the grass in February, you can do it given certain conditions are met. Trim your lawn gently only if the ground is dry and the weather is mild (temperature reaching at least 5°C). Also, it’s a good idea to cut as high as possible.
General February maintenance jobs
Here are some additional tasks to tackle in your garden this February:
- Get your water butts ready for summer. Acid-loving, ericaceous plants love rainwater.
- Clean your seed trays and pots with a disinfectant, then rinse them with clear, warm water. Make sure they’re ready for spring.
- Keep snow off trees and shrubs to prevent branches from breaking.
- Replace any worn or damaged tree ties that are cutting into the bark. Watch out for damage after storms or strong winds.
- Keep feeding the birds. Since the weather remains cold this month, hang fat balls and ensure bird feeders are consistently filled.
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- Prune flowering plants and shrubs;
- Start chitting early potatoes;
- Sow summer veggies indoors;
- Trim fruit trees and bushes;
- Mulch and care for perennial vegetables;
- Check the lawn and consider edging;
- Ensure that garden tools and equipment are clean and ready for use;
- Divide perennials that form clumps;
- Frost-proof fruit blossoms;
- Get your water tanks ready for summer.