Our top 10 gardening tips for February
It feels like it’s been winter forever. But don’t worry – we’re getting there. Spring officially begins in late March, which makes February an exciting month of anticipation.
There’s a noticeable increase in the length of the days and new green shoots are readying themselves to burst into bloom. So, just hold tight for a little longer.
Weatherwise, February can be very cold, with frosts, rain, and even snow! It can actually be a colder month than January, but a few days of watery sunshine is all that it takes to tempt us outside. On the mildest days, you can get outside for some much-needed gardening. But if it’s just too cold to head outside, it’s still early enough in the year to plant for the summer!
To give you a helping hand, we’ve compiled our top 10 gardening tips to keep you busy this February. You can either read this blog from top to bottom or click the tips that interest you the most below and you’ll be taken straight to them.
- Prune your non-spring blooming clematis
- Plant lilies in pots ready to be placed in the garden this summer
- Look after the birds
- Check your tools ahead of spring
- Plant bare-root trees and shrubs
- Plan for the summer
- Keep off your lawn when it’s frosty out
- Chit your potatoes
- Check your stored vegetables
- Cut back ornamental grasses
1. Prune your non-spring blooming clematis
We love clematis – they’re the ultimate showy climber!
But like all good things in life, you need to put in the work to see the best results. Many of these beauties need to be pruned in February to encourage their flowers and prevent a tangled mess of stems.
Although, don’t dash out to the garden with your pruners in hand just yet! Knowing which group your garden’s clematis is part of is crucial.
There are three groups differentiated by their blooming time:
- Group one: Spring bloomers
- Group two: Repeat bloomers
- Group three: Summer or autumn bloomers
You should only prune groups two and three – and the manner in which you should do this differs.How to prune group two clematis
The second group of clematis produce their flowers on short new shoots that grow from last year’s stems, so the aim here is to leave a framework of old stems in place.
Step one: Take out any dead or weak growth completely.
Step two: Track down each individual stem and prune it back by about one-third, cutting just above a healthy pair of buds.How to prune group three clematis
The third group flowers on the current season’s growth, so they can be pruned hard. Do it now and you’ll leave them plenty of time to produce those new, flowering shoots.
Cut all the stems back hard, making sure you:
#1: Prune them to 15-45cm from the ground level.
#2: Always cut just above a viable bulb.
After pruning, feed with an organic fertiliser and mulch with organic matter, or put a large stone at the base of the plant. Clematis like their heads in the sun but their roots shaded and cool.
2. Plant lilies in pots ready to be placed in the garden this summer
Lilies are one of our favourite flowers. They’re a bulbous perennial with erect stems that are grown for their fragrant and brightly coloured flowers. In short, they’re lovely.
They are normally planted in autumn in borders and patio tubs, but if you didn’t manage to do it then, you can still have lilies in flower this summer.
Even if the soil is too wet for planting outside you can pot up some lily bulbs and either move them or plant them out later in the spring.
There should be plenty of lily bulbs in the garden centres to choose from now. Look for good, plump bulbs, avoiding those which have become shrivelled and dry in the sun.
Plant three or four bulbs in an 18cm (7”) pot and keep them in a cool greenhouse or cold frame. Grow on inside, watering whenever the compost feels dry, to plant out later.
3. Look after the birds
February can be a difficult time for our feathered friends!
Make sure to provide them with plenty of water, food, and shelter. Not only will this keep them healthy during a trying time, but doing so will encourage them to visit your garden generally – and you can worry less about them nibbling on your buds and bulbs!
First things first, bird food is essential to attracting birds to your gardens. It’s important to use a variety of bird food as different species have various dietary requirements. You should also consider whether your favourite garden bird species can survive on the types of seeds or other goodies you’re offering them – some options may not provide enough nutrition for your favourite birds’ diets! So, if you’re looking to attract a certain type of bird, make sure to check what their favourite meal is.
If possible, also provide a bird table or two. These are elevated platforms that allow birds to perch and eat seeds or insects without having to crouch on the ground. They're especially useful in winter when snow or heavy rain may cover their usual feeding areas and make them hard for small birds to reach.
Once you’ve sorted out food and made your gardening a welcoming place for the birds, it’s time to think about a bird house.
A bird house is a structure created by humans that serves as a place for birds to nest. Elsewhere you will find them referred to as a bird nesting box, a bird box, or by the singular word birdhouse. Whatever you call them, they are a fantastic method to bring and keep birds in your garden.
Although the busiest time for bird nesting is March to July, it’s worth getting ahead of things. Birds need a little time to get used to new boxes before they will select them to nest in.
Although, it should noted that only certain types of birds – notably members of the tit family, sparrows, nuthatches, robins, woodpeckers, and wrens – use them.
4. Check your tools ahead of spring
It's a good idea to check your tools and machines ahead of spring. This is especially true if you haven't used them for a while, or if they've been stored in an area where they could be exposed to the elements.
Once the busy gardening season really gets underway, it’s maddening to go to the shed and only then remember that your favourite spade has a broken handle – just when you need to get on with digging or planting a newly bought plant!
Check for rust on metal tools, as well as corrosion on any plastic parts that might be affected by water or moisture. Also keep an eye out for cracks or breaks in wood handles and heads, missing screws and bolts, and loose fastenings.
If any of these problems are present then either repair them yourself or replace the tool altogether! Make sure to check out our range of gardening tools if you need to restock your garden shed.
5. Plant bare-root trees and shrubs
Bare-root trees and shrubs, including roses, can be planted at any time during the dormant season from November to March, but recent research has shown that February can be the ideal time.
Provided that the soil is not actually frozen, or so wet that it sticks to your boots, plants that you put in this month will get off to a really good start. The main reason is that plants are not stuck in cold, wet soil all winter, when new roots will not grow much at all, especially so soon after they have been lifted from the nursery.
By planting during this month, it is not long before the soil begins to warm up and those new roots will get growing, quickly establishing the plant. Remember to look after new plants well and water them thoroughly during any dry spells, especially as they are getting established in their first year.
To plant bare root plants: Dig holes that are wide enough to accommodate the root ball and deep enough to allow ample depth for roots to spread out freely once planted; water well before placing into ground; gently tamp soil around base of plant being careful not too compact soil around base of each plant.
6. Plan for the summer
Time spent now planning what plants and how many to grow in containers is well spent. It’s fun browsing through seed catalogues, dreaming up plant and colour combinations.
It’s all a matter of personal choice and deciding which plants will suit a particular situation, for example, sunny or shady positions.
If you have space, grow the plants from seed or if you haven’t the time for this, all the seed companies sell young plants as well, and if you can bring these on undercover you get a much wider choice by buying early.
7. Keep off your lawn when it’s frosty out
Keep off the grass when it’s frozen or frosted. Otherwise, when it thaws out, your footprints will show up as yellow patches on the lawn where the grass has been damaged.
8. Chit your potatoes
Chitting is simply the process of sprouting potatoes before planting them; this helps them grow faster once they've been put in the ground and can increase their yield by about 50%.
You can do this indoors by placing your potatoes in trays with moistened soil and covering them loosely with plastic wrap until shoots emerge (usually within five to ten days).
Once they have sprouted at least half an inch high above soil level, remove the plastic wrap and allow the plants another week until they reach three to four inches tall. After this, move them into larger containers or directly into garden beds outside (if weather permits).
9. Check your stored vegetables
If you're storing vegetables, it's important to check them regularly. This can be done by looking out for the following issues.Pests and diseases
Look for signs of insect damage (e.g., holes or discolouration), mould growth, wilting leaves and stunted growth. If you see any of these things, throw out the affected food immediately!Rot
If you find soft spots in your veggies (or even worse – if they've started to liquefy!), they'll need to go too.Dehydration
This happens when moisture evaporates from produce faster than it can be replaced by keeping them in airtight containers or sealed bags with minimal air circulation around them; this causes flaking on top surfaces which makes it look like something has been nibbling away at them overnight, but actually just represents water loss due to poor storage conditions rather than actual pests eating away at your precious harvest.
10. Cut back ornamental grasses
Your ornamental grasses should be cut now. Trimming them will make them more appealing, and it's a very easy procedure.
If the grass is tall, a lawn mower can be used to trim it down to about two feet in height. For shorter varieties, use hand pruners or loppers instead – just make sure that they're sharp!
In order to avoid tearing up the plants when cutting them back, you should also make sure that your mower blade is kept sharp. A dull blade will create jagged edges where fragments of leaves may later fall off and become brown from exposure to air pollution or sunshine.
We hope you've found these tips helpful and we wish you a happy, healthy, and productive gardening season!