February is the time where winter starts to fade and spring becomes closer. The days start becoming longer, which is every gardener’s dream! Temperatures can vary massively in February with the low temperatures being 0.5 ºC and the highest temperatures reaching 10 ºC. The sunny days in February, particularly towards the end of the month, will bring narcissi, cyclamen and crocus into flower to join the snowdrops. However, February can have some of the coldest days bringing rain, hard frosts and sometimes snow. Therefore, don’t rush into sowing seeds because there still might be some winter weather to come.
Essential checklist for February
- Prune the shrubs that have become overgrown and misshapen.
- Replant snowdrops.
- Cut back ornamental grasses.
- Start sowing bedding.
- Sow or re-pot sweet peas.
- Lime your vegetable beds.
- Start preparing outdoor seed beds for early vegetables.
- Plant rhubarb crowns.
- Dig trenches for runner beans.
- Feed the birds and put up nest boxes.
Last chance to…
- Prune apple and pear trees.
- Complete winter digging.
Prune the shrubs that have become overgrown
For the shrubs and deciduous trees that have now become too big and misshapen, February is a great time to prune them. The first step to pruning is cutting out all dead or crossing branches back to a joint. If your plant is too big, it is better to prune lightly rather than drastically. This is because the harder you prune, the stronger the growth tends to be. After pruning then feed the plants with Westland Fish, Blood and Bone.
If the weather is mild, any hardy evergreens, such as laurel that have become too large can be pruned. Late-flowering shrubs such as buddleia and lavatera can be hard pruned. Hard pruning means to cut the plants almost to ground level with leaving just a couple of buds on each stem.
Snowdrops are a cheery sight in the garden at this time of year. Therefore, you can never have too many so dividing and replanting is a great thing to do in February to increase the clumps. As the flowers begin to fade, dig up the snowdrops and gently tease the bulbs apart. Finally, replant the snowdrops in groups of five.
Cut back ornamental grasses
Most grasses will start to of past their best once in February. Therefore, it’s a good time to cut back the dead stems. Cut about 10cm above ground level, but be careful to not to damage the new green shoots that are emerging among them.
Sow summer bedding
Summer bedding such as begonias and snapdragons need a long growing season. Therefore, these can be sown now, but use a heated propagator to maintain a steady temperature.
Autumn-sown sweet peas can be re-potted in February. For summer flowers, sweet peas can be sown in February in a cold greenhouse. See our guide to growing Sweet Peas for more information.
Complete winter digging
Winter digging of new plots and empty beds needs to be completed in February. However, this is very much weather dependent as don’t go on the ground if it is very wet or frozen.
Lime your vegetable beds
If you are planning on growing cabbages, cauliflowers and sprouts then you may need to lime your vegetable beds because they prefer an alkaline soil to grow in. These vegetables will not need to be planted out until May, but the lime needs to be added at least 2 months before. Check out our Garden Lime for more information.
Prepare some beds for sowing early seeds
Seeds such as lettuce, summer cabbage, broad beans, salad onions, early peas and spinach can be sown early so it is a good idea to prepare the beds for them. The preparation involves covering the soil for a couple of weeks to warm it up. You can cover it with cloches, a cold frame or horticultural fleece. Before you sow the seed, rake the warm soil to a fine tilth. When it is mild enough to sow then sow the seeds in fine drills. Water the drills before you sow so that the seeds don’t get washed into the deep soil. Then replace the cover. For more information see our guide to seed sowing.
February should be the time where you finish pruning apple and pear trees before the sap starts to rise. Don’t prune plums, cherries or nectarines as pruning now could lead to the fungal disease, silverleaf. Feed all the fruit trees and bushes with Westland Sulphate of Potash. This will help create a good crop of fruit.
Split up any large rhubarb plants that you have and replant them. New rhubarb crowns can also be planted in well-cultivated soil. Dig in some Farmyard Manure before replanting.
If you are planning on growing runner beans, a trench needs to be dug for them. Beans can be grown in a row or a wigwam. Dig the trench 45cm deep and fill with well-rotted manure. This means you are prepared for when it comes to planting.
Feeding the birds is a very important job at this time of the year, as many natural food sources run out. It is also the National Nest Box week in February, which is a scheme run to encourage us to add nest boxes to our gardens. Therefore, get a nest box and put it up in your garden. Face your boxes between north and east to avoid the brightest sunshine and coldest winds.
If you have a hollow or raised bump in the lawn, then now is the time to fix it. It is relatively easily to do too! Use a spade or half-moon to cut an H in the affected area and then lift the turf and peel back the two flaps that have been cut. If you have a raised bump, then remove excess earth or if it is a hollow, then add soil. Level the soil and put the turf back in place.
If it is a mild February then, you may need to start cutting your lawn, but only a light trim will be needed. If you are planning to sow a new lawn in the spring then now is the time to dig over the area.
Find out more information about caring for your lawn here.