Tips of the month – February

As the dark days depart, spring is on its way. We have already enjoyed some very warm days and on occasion, slightly dryer weather. February is the month to get your garden ready for new growth and colours. 

Weather watch:

With hints of warm temperature, February can sometimes be very cold. Hold off on most planting and sowing and focus on maintenance jobs that need to be done in the garden. After the stormy weather we had this year, it is the right time to check your fences and give them a coat of paint. Also clean paths and patios.

Bulbs

  • Lillies bulbs can be planted out towards the end of this month in pots or directly in the ground.
  • It is not too late to plant alliums, that will flower later than those planted last autumn. 
  • Summer bulbs: Order bulbs now to plant them when all risk of frost has passed.

Lift Snowdrops

It is the right time to lift and divide congested populations of snowdrops, replanting smaller clumps at the same depth as they were before.  

Cutting back and pruning

  • Clear away old stems and seed-heads of perennials left to stand over winter, making space for new growth. 
  • Prune summer flowering shrubs 
  • Lavender: trim back the old flower stalks 
  • Sedums: cut the brown stems down to ground level
  • Ornamental grasses: cut deciduous grasses down to the ground before new growth starts to emerge.
  • Shrub roses: remove dead or diseased stems and cut back repeat-flowering roses by a third to a half. 
  • Prune late-flowering clematis (group 3 clematis): cut just above a pair of healthy buds about 30 to 60 cm above ground.
  • Autumn fruiting raspberries: simply cut down all canes to the ground and apply a thick layer of homemade compost or mulch. 
  • Wisteria: February is the last month to give wisteria a winter prune. Cut back the stems to two or three buds. 
  • Fuchsia, penstemons: best to wait another month until you see signs of new growth. 

Sowing Annuals

  • It might still be too cold to sow outdoors. The end of the month is a good time to give annuals a head start, indoors in a warm sunny windowsill, or a heated greenhouse. Once the seedlings are big enough to handle, transfer them to small pots to grow, before moving them in late spring in the ground or bigger pots. 

Chitting potatoes

February is a good month to start chitting seed potatoes in a light, cool but frost free place. Potatoes will need 4 to 6 weeks of chitting before they are ready to plant. This will give them a chance to sprout and start putting on growth. They will be ready for planting in mid-March to April when the soli temperature warms up to 6-10 degrees.

Tips of the Month November & December 2023

Continue jobs from October tips, as the weather is still very mild and the wet soil is still good for planting in.

It’s still not too late to plant bulbs tulips actually benefit from being planted later when it gets colder – so the end of November into December is a perfect time to plant them.

A lot of annual & ‘ephemeral’ weeds continue to grow due to the mild wet weather so continue to weed – especially where weeds are competing with growing plants.

Continue to add mulches – garden compost, spent pot compost and manure to bare soil patches.

Resist cutting back vegetation until February/early March as wildlife will benefit from dying seed heads and dead flower stalks etc.

Make sure bird feeders are kept topped up and provide water for birds and other wildlife to drink. We are told to clean bird feeders when refilling them to prevent birds from being infected with disease from dirty bird feeders.

December is the month when I go out and collect greenery from the garden to bring in for Christmas decorations.

Ask for plants for Christmas – bare root shrubs, roses, fruit trees can be planted bare root between November and February (providing the ground is not frozen).

Tips of the Month

June

Sow seeds of biennials such as foxgloves, wallflowers and Sweet Williams in a seed bed or in containers.

Sow brassicas for Autumn/Winter harvest.

Stake flowers that are likely to flop such as delphiniums and sunflowers.

Chop perennials such as Oriental poppies and lupins back to the base for potentially a second flush of flowers.

Take softwood cuttings from shrubs such as mock orange & hydrangeas using non-flowering shoots up to 10cm long.

Feed tomatoes when the fruit starts to set.

Pick off plums so that fruit are 4 inches apart to avoid too many fruits which will rot.

Water in dry weather and feed flowers and fruits weekly with tomato feed or liquid seaweed solution.

May

Still just enough time to plant late potatoes.

Prune early Spring shrubs such as Forsythia, Ribes and Kerria after flowering to give them maximum time to regrow and flower next year.

Don’t mow your lawn in May – ‘No Mow May’ – allow grass to grow long to provide habitats for bees, butterflies and other wildlife.

Sow winter veg such as cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli.

Sow French and runner beans under cover.

Prune wall trained Pyracanthas.

Water newly planted trees and shrubs.

Cut out frost damage to evergreen shrubs.

Weed paths and patios.

April.

Deadhead Spring bedding – remove faded blooms from primroses, pansies and other bedding.

Sow hardy annual seeds outside.

Prune penstemons, cut just above fresh new shoots

Deadhead faded daffodil and tulip flowers but only take off the flowers – don’t cut back the stems.

If frost is forecast protect fruit blossom on trees such as plums, apricots, peaches and pears.

Sow seeds of marrow, courgette, pumpkins and squash under cover.

Sow root crops such as beetroot & carrot outside when the soil has warmed –

February & March.

These are the months when we can get back into our gardens – with more daylight hours and some days of sunny Spring weather.

Pruning

Prune shrub roses & climbing roses – rambler roses should be pruned after flowering.

Prune soft fruit bushes – Autumn fruiting Raspberries (Summer fruiting Raspberries should be pruned in September): Currants, Gooseberries & Blueberries.

Clear garden borders of dead growth which you have kept during the winter months to provide shelter to insects.

Weed borders – clear perennial weeds and annual weeds but don’t hoe emerging bulbs or perennials.

Mulch borders with garden compost or well-rotted manure.

Start seed sowing under cover indoors on windowsills or in a greenhouse/conservatory/porch – Aubergine, Chillis, Peppers & Tomatoes need a long growing period.

Chit seed potatoes before planting them out at the end of March/beginning of April.

Some vegetable seeds can be sown outdoors towards the end of March – carrots, broad beans and parsnips.

Repair bare patches in lawns – seed over bare patches.

Beware though- Weather Forecasters are predicting another ‘Beast from the East’ at the beginning of March – so don’t sow seeds outside until after that!!