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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.