What to do in the garden in February
There's always something to be doing in the garden, whether it's pruning, tidying or sowing, so we've put together our top gardening tasks for February.
In the flower garden
- • Prune your Wisteria now, cutting back summer side-shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
- • Towards the end of the month prune summer-flowering Clematis before active growth begins - find out how with our clematis pruning guide.
- • Cut back shrubs such as Cornus and Salix cultivars (grown for their colourful winter stems) down to their bases.
- • Cut back the old foliage from ornamental grasses before growth begins - clip them to within a few centimetres of the ground.
- • Prune overwintered fuchsias back to one or two buds on each shoot.
- • Prune Winter Flowering Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) after flowering to encourage new growth for next year's blooms. Cut back the previous years growth to 5cm from the old wood.
- • Prune winter flowering shrubs such as Mahonia and Viburnum x bodnantense after their colourful display has finished.
- • Trim winter-flowering heathers as the flowers disappear, to prevent the plants becoming leggy.
- • Remove any faded flowers from your winter pansies to stop them setting seed. This will encourage a flush of new flowers when the weather warms up.
- • Lift and divide snowdrops still 'in the green' if you want to move them or create more plants.
- • If you need to move deciduous trees or shrubs, now is the time to do it provided the soil is not frozen or waterlogged.
- • Plant Lilies and Allium bulbs.
- • Plant bare root roses in a sunny position for spectacular summer colour.
- • Plant fragrant winter flowering shrubs to add interest to borders. Try Daphne, Viburnum x bodnantense, Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) and Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox).
- • Hardwood cuttings taken last year may need planting or potting on now.
- • Pot on rooted cuttings of tender perennial plants taken last summer.
- • Look out for Hellebore leaf spot (rounded brown spots on the leaves) and remove any leaves that are affected.
In the vegetable garden
- • Force rhubarb plants for an early crop. Plant new rhubarb crowns now.
- • Mulch perennial vegetables such as Asparagus and Artichokes with well rotted manure or garden compost.
- • Start chitting early potatoes - stand them on end in a module tray or egg box and place them in a bright, cool, frost-free place.
- • Start sowing vegetable seeds such as
celeriac under cover now.
- • Prepare vegetable seed beds by removing all weeds and forking in plenty of compost. Cover prepared soil with sheets of black plastic to keep it drier and warmer in preparation for spring planting.
- • If you garden on heavy clay soil but want to make an early start in the garden, build
raised beds before the growing season gets under way. The soil will warm up faster and raised beds drain quickly too.
In the fruit garden
- • Cut autumn-fruiting raspberry canes to the ground to stimulate new canes, which will fruit in the autumn. Cut the tips of summer-fruiting raspberry canes that have grown beyond the top of their supports; cut just above a bud.
- • Continue to plant raspberry canes for the coming summer.
- • Prune apple trees and pear trees whilst they're still dormant. Leave plum trees, cherry trees and apricots until the summer as pruning these fruit trees now will make them susceptible to Silver Leaf disease.
- • Prune blackcurrant bushes, gooseberries and redcurrants to maintain a productive framework. Currant bushes can also still be planted between now and the spring.
- • Protect the blossoms of apricots, peaches and nectarines. These
stone fruit trees can also be planted now.
- • Mulch fruit trees with well rotted manure or garden compost taking care not to mound mulch up around the trunk.
In the greenhouse
- • Don't be tempted to sow too many seeds this early in the season - they may become leggy due to low light levels. Later sowings will catch up and grow just as fast.
- • For better seed germination, invest in an electric propagator
to help your early sowings along.
- • Soak sweet pea seeds in tepid water overnight before planting them, to speed up germination.
Looking after your lawn
- • With spring on the way it's worth preparing your lawn for the season ahead. Try installing lawn edging which creates a neat and tidy appearance and makes maintenance easier.
From your armchair
- • Sort your seeds by sowing date, month by month.
- • If you haven't already, plan your vegetable plot for this year to ensure good crop rotation and prevent pests and diseases building up in the soil.
- • Order your seeds and plug plants online now. Having a garden plan drawn up will help you decide the quantities you need.
- • Consider using containers and hanging baskets filled with bedding plants
to add colour to your patio.
- • Order your onion sets
and asparagus crowns now ready for planting in the spring.
- • Order flower bulbs for summer colour such as
Lily of the Valley
and Gladioli in preparation for spring planting.
- • If you fancy growing potatoes but are struggling for space in your vegetable plot this year, try using potato grow bags.
- • Order your fruit trees now for planting in early spring. If space is limited in your garden try growing dwarf fruit trees, or edging vegetable plots with stepover apple and pear trees.
Other jobs about the garden
- • Trim deciduous hedges before the birds start nesting.
- • Vines such as Ivy, Virginia Creeper and Boston Ivy can be cut back now to keep windows, gutters and roof tiles clear.
- • If you're adding woody prunings to compost bins, shred or chop them first as they are slow to decompose.
- • Wash empty pots by scrubbing them with hot water and a mild detergent. Rinse them well afterwards.
- • The weather is still cold this month so hang fat balls and keep bird feeders topped up to attract birds, who will in turn eat pests in your garden.
- • Install water butts now ready for the summer. Rainwater is particularly useful for watering acid-loving, ericaceous plants (tap water is often slightly alkaline).
- • If you don't already know what type of soil you have, invest in a soil testing kit to help you choose the right plants for your garden.
- • If all you can see from your windows are unattractive sheds, composting areas and bins this winter, think about using evergreen climbers such as Clematis armandii or Clematis 'Fragrant Oberon' to screen the area, or just to add winter interest. Bamboo plants also make a fantastic screen.