February Gardening Calendar

The early signs of spring are approaching - bulbs are flowering and birds and wildlife stirring as temperatures creep up and daylight intensifies. February is a chance to prepare for the growing season ahead, prune shrubs,and appreciate the patterns of striking winter leaves.

Flowers and shrubs

  • Trim back ivy and creepers from around windows and guttering, prune winter jasmine to cut back flowered shoots and remove old stems on mahonia to make room for new growth.
  • Cut down willows and dogwoods to their base to promote strong new canes. Cut down tall stems of buddleia to low-growing emerging shoots
  • Prune buddleia during mild weather but complete by the end of February
  • Prepare soil well before planting new roses and prune the tops of standard roses to reduce wind rock.
  • Divide congested herbaceous perennials and snowdrops when in leaf (known as ‘in the green’)
  • Deadhead winter-flowering pansies and bedding plants
  • Sow sweet peas in deep pots and pinch out shoot tips once two pairs of true leaves have developed
  • Plant lily of the valley in shady areas - the small white bells will lift the darkness
  • Snow may look beautiful but remember to knock it off the branches of shrubs, trees and other plants bending under its weight to prevent branches breaking

Fruit and vegetables

  • Prune apple, pear and other large fruit trees before they start growing again to control their shape, as well as to increase productivity. Remove broken or diseased branches, crossing limbs, and branches growing inwards or downwards. As apples flower and fruit on old wood, thin out new growth to direct energy back into the flowers and also let in light
  • Prune side shoots on trained forms of gooseberry back to two or three buds; Prune gooseberry bushes to open up the centre of the bush to improve air circulation
  • Cover seakale to force new shoots to develop; cover rhubarb with an old bucket to exclude light and encourage early pickings of long tender stalks
  • Finish winter pruning fruit trees and soft fruits
  • Cut stems of autumn-fruiting raspberries to soil level
  • Chit seed potatoes, standing them in trays in a light but frost-free position
  • Plant Jerusalem artichokes as a windbreak on exposed plots
  • Plant new fruit trees, bushes and canes (before they start growing in March) in deep holes filled with plenty of compost and sprinkle sulphate of potash fertiliser around the plant base
  • Use netting and bird scarers, such as old CDs hung on string, to protect fruit bushes from hungry birds, who can strip off swelling buds
  • Sow mustard and cress in a pot on the kitchen windowsill for a quick crop
  • Sow Brussels sprouts, spring cabbages, cauliflowers, onions, leeks, lettuces and salad leaves seeds in trays in the greenhouse to transplant outside when it’s a bit warmer
  • Sow broad beans, carrots, hardy peas and parsnips outside in soil warmed by cloches

In the greenhouse

  • Sow lettuces and salad crops in pots for early pickings along with tomatoes, aubergines, onions, cucumbers, celery and peppers, which will do best in a heated propagator
  • Start sowing seeds of summer bedding plants that need a long growing season, such as pelargonium, petunia, verbena, salvia, lobelia and begonia
  • Sow Brussels sprouts, spring cabbages, cauliflowers, onions, leeks, lettuces and salad leaves seeds in trays in the greenhouse to transplant outside when it’s a bit warmer
  • Plant dahlia tubers stored from last season or bought new in trays or pots to encourage shoots to develop, and place in a heated propagator
  • Plant summer bulbs, such as liatris, begonia, gloxinia, gloriosa, canna, eucomis and agapanthus
  • Water potted fuchsias sparingly - just to prevent compost drying out altogether
  • Keep conditions in your greenhouse frost-free by installing a thermostatically controlled electric fan heater

Lawn and trees

  • Remember not to walk over lawns where spring bulbs and flowers will be emerging but keep grass clear of fallen leaves so it doesn’t die from a lack of light
  • Prune hardy evergreen hedges and renovate overgrown deciduous hedges
  • Now’s the time to finish moving overcrowded shrubs or ones you feel are growing in the wrong place while they're still dormant

General maintenance

  • Clear out your shed, sharpen blades of hoes, secateurs and other tools, and repair and treat fencing and timber structures with preservative while climbing plants are dormant
  • Use a pressure washer to clear paths, steps, paving and patios of mould orany build up of dirt that could be slippery in wet weather
  • Clear plant debris from around ponds and scoop out leaves that have fallen into the water

Plan ahead

  • Fork and rake over border areas where you want to sow hardy annual flowers next month
  • Prepare plant supports so they are ready to support tall or floppy perennials, such as delphiniums, in spring
  • Start to plan what seedlings, summer-flowering bulbs and summer bedding plants you’ll order for delivery in April and May

Little green fingers

  • Make fat cakes and hang them among roses to encourage bluetits to feed off overwintering pests
  • Put up nesting boxes for birds in suitable trees or on buildings around your garden
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