Garden Diary - February
Finally February is here, with spring fast approaching there’s still plenty of jobs to do before the coming season. In this diary we’ll talk about all the tasks you can be doing in February, mostly to get your garden ready but there’s also a few different plants you can be planting and seeds you can be sowing!
Maintenance & Protection
When it comes to your garden in February there are a fair amount of jobs you can do to make it ready for spring and to repair any damage or mess caused by winter. In this section, we’ll detail these jobs for you.
Firstly you want to start by getting rid of any pests that have made a home out of your garden, look for and get rid of any snails hiding away in secluded spots, empty pots, planters or elsewhere. Next if you have any herbs or crops in your garden, you will want to check these over for any pests such as rosemary beetles, caterpillars, etc. If you have a lot of crops then you only need to check the ones that are looking run down or nibbled upon. We have a large range of pest control products that you can find on our website as well!
Next you should prepare any crop beds for the coming sowing by weeding them extensively with various weeding products and then adding new compost into the soil. Compost and farmyard manure can also be added to soil to make it more nutrient rich. It is also important to keep an eye on the weather, as if frost is forecast then your fruit plants may be vulnerable. You can protect their blossoms by wrapping them in fleece, this is necessary for plants such as nectarines, peaches & apricots. Subsequently now is also the time to be hand pollinating these types of fruit plants, which can be done with a soft paintbrush.
Garden structures and other garden features will also need attention in February, importantly monitoring your greenhouse's temperature is important and you can set a minimum and maximum temperature on most heaters. It’s also a great idea to wash your greenhouse windows at this time of year to make them clear for spring, so as much light can be let in as possible. A simple but sturdy cold frame is a great investment to protect your young plants during the spring, these can be easily built or bought.
Snow can be a disaster for a lot of plants and this is even true for the stalwart evergreen, large amounts of snow should be removed from evergreen hedges, shrubs and conifers to help prevent branches from snapping. Also you should keep an eye on your fleece or other insulation that you are using on your plants, to make sure it is still intact and in good condition. While doing that, it provides a great opportunity to also check and fix plants that have been pushed up or damaged by frost or windrock.
Plants aren’t the only things that need attention in February, birds could all do with some love. Why not make or buy fat balls to attract birds, that will also forage your garden for pests. These can be hung up, placed inside a fat ball feeder or placed on any flat surface. If you have a pond and you are using netting to stop leaves falling in during autumn, this can now be removed. If you are not using netting then you will need to clear up any plant debris from around the pond and scoop out any leaves that are in the water. Now is also a great time to get your spring supplies clean and sorted, with items such as plant supports, canes and any tools you are planning to use.
Encouraging Plant Growth & Flowering
There are a few plants you want to focus on in February to encourage their growth so that they really flourish during spring. Starting with flowering shrubs such as roses, with these you will want to spread slow releasing fertilisers around their bases, a layer of farmyard manure can also be added to further strengthen the plants performance. Similar can be done for fruit trees and bushes but by sprinkling sulphate or potash fertiliser around their bases, which will encourage fruiting. Potatoes that bloom early can also be chitted at this point to encourage early sprouting, to do so store them in trays in a place where they are not going to get frosty but they are still getting a lot of light.
For fruits like strawberries you can put a fleece or other insulation over them to encourage early growth. Additionally fuchsias can also be cut back, alongside increasing their watering to encourage speedier growth. If you have any sweet pea plants you are growing in pots, now is a great time to move them to larger pots and to then snip or pinch out shoots to encourage side shoots to form.
In February there are a few plants that you can be pruning to either improve their look, growth or health and in this section we’ll detail all the plants you might need to prune. Starting with any overwintering plants, with these you will want to cut off any faded or sickly looking leaves, to help prevent diseases and fungal growth. Next if you have deciduous ornamental grasses that you have left grown over winter, these will need to be cut down before any new shoots appear. Additionally if you have any clematis that flower in summer, you will want to cut their stems back to about 30cm from their bases. Similarly Hippaestrum (amaryllis) flowerheads will need to be cut off once they have faded, but the stalk can be left alone. The ideal tool for small plants are a high quality hand pruner.
Furthermore if you have any wisteria plants, their side shoots will need to be cut back to three buds from the base, which will help to encourage the coming flowering. Winter heathers can also be given a light pruning once they have flowered, this is to remove any shoot tips only. Any rapidly growing shrubs such as buddleja or elder will need to be cut back to their base so that they do not become too unruly. Also if you have evergreens that flower in spring such as Epimediums, then you will want to snip off any old foliage to encourage their spring bloom.
February is a great time to show your fruit plants and trees some attention as well, by pruning any old stems or canes to allow for new ones to flourish and a better chance at a bumper crop. Likewise roses such as hybrid teas and floribunda roses will need to be trimmed back before spring. Now is also a great time to coppice any hazel trees you have, what this means is to cut down their trunks to the base to encourage new flush stems to grow. When cutting your hazel trees in this way it is best to make the cut at a slight angle and to clear away any leaves or moss from or around the stumps, this helps to prevent rot and diseases. We also recommend using a saw or large shears if you have them to cut a bigger plant like this. If you are short on any pruning tools and you are looking for some new high quality options, you can find all of our Gardening Tools here!
While there aren’t a huge number of plants that you can be planting in February, there are a few exceptions to this rule for the more hardy or dormant plants. Firstly with dormant plants such as deciduous shrubs, now is the perfect time to move them if they are growing in the wrong place. If you have any new pots, planters or empty beds you can also fill them with hearty spring bedding such as forget-me-nots, primroses, etc. You can also plant summer bedding and tender annuals such as cosmos, lobelia, etc into pots that are going to be stored inside or somewhere warm. Summer bulbs can also be planted indoors in pots which allow them to grow enough to begin flowering in summer.
Additionally large clumps of winter flowers such as snow drops or aconites can be moved and replanted to allow for the beginning of new colonies, although this should only be done after flowering. The same can be done with plants such as herbaceous perennials and grasses. At this time of year rhubarb can also be planted in enriched soil, this can be from new plants or taken from existing rhubarb plants. Similarly bare-root fruit bushes, trees or canes can also be planted as long as the ground has thawed out and is not frozen and it isn’t going to freeze over again too soon after you have planted them.
During February there are also a few seeds to be sown and items to go over to create an abundance of plants in the coming spring and summer, make sure you have enough seed trays and the right tools before you start. Some of the seeds you can sow are mustard and cress seeds, which can be planted into small seed trays and placed somewhere warm such as a windowsill or greenhouse. This can also be done with crops such as tomatoes and chillies, but they will need a bigger area to grow into. Sweet peas can also be sown into deep pots and kept somewhere frost free like a greenhouse or windowsill. If you have any dahlia tubers that you have planted then you can use any of the shoots that come up as cuttings as well. Do you have a number of old seed packets that you are wondering if the seeds are still good? Then there’s a simple test: sow a few seeds onto damp kitchen paper from each packet and wait to see if any begin to germinate. The seeds that germinate are still good to plant.
That covers all of our jobs that you can do during February, plant and weather permitting of course! Check back in March for a new list of jobs that are perfect for you and your gardens transition into spring. If you are looking for any garden products then you can find our full range here. Or perhaps you are wanting to put up some new garden structures in time for relaxing in, in summer!
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