Delicious in salads and sandwiches, the crisp, sweet crunch of a cucumber is one of the joys of summer.
Gardening in February
February is the last month of winter, and frequently the coldest. It’s the end of the dormant period for many plants, so the last opportunity to plant out perennials and fruit trees. Timing this is tricky, as the ground is sometimes too frozen to dig with a spade or garden fork. Even on days when it is too cold to work the soil, there is still time to finish pruning plants ready for them to start regrowing in spring.
What to plant and do in February?
Hopefully over the winter you have found an opportunity to plan what you want to grow in the coming year. If your seeds have arrived, it’s time to start sowing some of them. To discover what to plant in February as well as any essential gardening jobs for February simply choose your favourite category below.
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What vegetables to plant in February
Some vegetables can be sown outside now, despite the cold weather of February:
- Broad beans
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Pea shoots
- Salad onions
- Spring cabbage
- Summer cabbage
Other vegetable seeds need a bit of warmth, so should be started under glass. A windowsill or heated greenhouse is perfect:
- Peppers (Chilli)
- Peppers (Sweet)
What vegetables to harvest in February
There should still be plenty of vegetables to crop from the garden:
- Brussels sprouts
Parsnips will be full of flavour after a couple of months of cold weather. Freezing conditions bring out the sweetness in them - just make sure to harvest on a day without frost when you can get a garden fork into the ground!
Vegetable plant maintenance in February
Check netting on brassicas to make sure that it is still secure. Birds – pigeons in particular – can shred unprotected greens very quickly. Stop them getting access by weighing or pinning down the edges of netting so that there are no entry points.
Jobs to prepare for the spring:
- Potatoes - ‘chit’ these ready for planting in the spring. This means placing them in a light and warm place, such as a hallway or windowsill. This helps them to sprout before they are planted outside, giving them a head start when they are planted out next month. Use certified virus-free seed potatoes which are intended for growing.
- Asparagus - add compost above each plant before it starts to produce spears.
- Leeks - leave a last plant in the ground so that it flowers. Pollinators love leek flowers, and they are a large, beautiful ball shape. Once the seed head has dried out, the seeds can be saved for sowing.
What fruit to plant in February
A trip to the garden centre in February might allow you to pick up some end-of-season bargains. Many will be clearing space ready for spring stocks and will be keen to move out the last of their container-grown fruit plants.
Any of the following plants can be planted now:
When buying an apple tree, remember that they produce a range of different types of fruit. The four main types are cider apples, crab apples, dessert (eating) apples and culinary (cooking) apples. Choose a type that will meet your culinary needs.
What fruit to harvest in February
Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but in the kitchen it is usually treated as a fruit. Easy to grow, and usually free - rhubarb crowns need to be divided every few years to reinvigorate them, so ask your neighbours to see if someone you know is planning to divide their clump.
Only rhubarb stalks can be eaten - the leaves are highly poisonous and should be removed in the garden and composted.
Fruit plant maintenance in February
February is the right time to prune:
- Autumn raspberries - cut them all to just above ground level.
- Apple and pear trees - whilst they are dormant.
- Blackcurrants - remove old wood to promote good air circulation between branches.
- Citrus plants - remove spindly growth.
- Nectarines & peaches that are very young and where they are being trained to shape. Cut about one third from each branch, to just above a bud.
Cover apricots, nectarines, plums and strawberries with horticultural fleece when a cold snap is forecast. This will protect the blossoming flowers from frost and will encourage strawberries to flower earlier than usual. Remove the fleece once the weather has warmed to allow pollinators to get to the flowers.
Weed around all fruit plants. In particular, look out for perennial weeds which should be removed before they have a chance to establish.
Trees & Shrubs
What trees & shrubs to plant in February
There are plenty of perennials and shrubs which can be added to your garden in February:
- Cornus (dogwood)
- Hamamelis (witch hazel)
- Hardy geraniums
- Ilex (holly)
- Japanese anemone
The plant will live in the garden for many years, so give it a good start by doing the following:
- Dig in a high quality compost to the spot where it will be planted.
- Water the soil before planting, and afterwards.
- Mulch soil around the plant with bark or compost.
What trees & shrubs to prune in February
February is the perfect time of year to prune the following plants:
- Clematis - all apart from group 1. Here are some useful tips on how to prune Clematis.
- Cornus - cut to ground level.
- Hardy geraniums
- Hellebores - remove browning leaves.
- Ilex (holly)
- Winter jasmine
- Wisteria - this needs to be pruned twice a year to ensure that it remains healthy. Follow our guidance on pruning Wisteria to ensure that your hard work promotes flowering growth later in the year.
Keep any sturdy twigs and branches to use as supports elsewhere in the garden.
Tree & shrub maintenance in February
- Water newly planted perennials and shrubs to help them establish. Once you see new growth on them, there’s no need to water further. At this point it is better to let the root system work for itself, establishing a strong support network in the soil so that it can better withstand extremes of weather.
- If perennial weeds have taken hold in borders, now is a good time to tackle the problem. Lift shrubs and wash the roots and remove any trace of the weed from the border area.
- Divide shrubs if they are congested. Replant the divided plant in another part of your garden or give it to a friend or neighbour for their own enjoyment.
What roses to plant in February
February is a time of year when you can start to look forward to spring, planning what plants you want to add to your garden. Any type of bare-root rose can be planted now, as long as the ground is not waterlogged or frozen.
Bare-root plants have been grown in the ground. They are usually stronger plants than those grown in a pot, as the root systems have been able to develop unfettered by the confines of a container. They are also often cheaper and provide a wider range of varieties to choose from.
What roses to prune in February
Prune roses which you planted out last year to remove unwanted growth.
For all established roses, remove dead and damaged branches, and any which are touching other branches. Particular types of rose then have additional pruning needs which can be undertaken in February:
- Cut back the strongest growing branches to 30cm (12in) from the ground.
Hybrid tea roses:
- Cut back the strongest growing branches to 10-15cm (4-6in) from the ground.
Patio and miniature roses:
- Remove twiggy growth.
- Remove leggy growth where it is out of keeping with the main shape of the rose.
- Reduce the main stem by about a third.
- Cut back the strongest growing shoots to about a third.
- Remove any spindly growth which is spoiling the intended shape of the plant.
- Cut back side shoots to within three buds of the branch.
Rose maintenance in February
- Apply a mulch of specialised compost to all roses. This will provide a suitable source of nutrients and help the soil to retain moisture.
- Replace any ties to supports that have been damaged over winter.
- Keep newly planted roses well-watered whilst they establish.
Flowers & Bulbs
What flowers & bulbs to plant in February
Bulbs which can be started in February include:
- Galtonia (summer hyacinth)
Bulbs should be planted at least three times their depth. This means that a 2-3cm (1in) long bulb should be planted 6cm (3in) deep. Create an extended display in a pot by planting different varieties of bulbs at different depths. Use a specialised compost for containers to give plants the perfect start.
The following seeds can be sown under cover now:
- Antirrhinums (Snapdragons)
- Sweet peas
Spring hardy bedding to plant out in February:
- Erysimum (Wallflowers)
Dahlia tubers should be encouraged out of dormancy now. Plant them into compost and keep at 10°C or higher.
Flower & bulb maintenance in February
Other jobs in your flower garden for February are to:
- Divide snowdrops and winter aconites. Move the divided clumps to new areas of the garden to increase the spread of these beautiful early flowering plants.
- Wash seed trays and pots, and order fresh compost, ready for sowing flower seeds into.
- Deadhead winter-flowering pansies.
- Cut off flower stalks from Amaryllis once they have finished flowering.
- Cut flowers from daffodils, tulips, and snowdrops to bring indoors for a colourful display in the home.
Herbs & Spices
What herbs & spices to plant in February
Seeds of the following herbs can be sown in February and through to early spring. All of them will produce leafy green growth which can be harvested later in the year:
There are three main types of parsley. Flat-leaved parsley has a strong flavour, curly-leaved parsley looks pretty, and Hamburg parsley has a flavoursome root. All of them can be grown from seed.
Coriander will usually bolt in warm weather. Bolting means that the plant has started to flower and produce seed. Flowers, seeds and leaves of coriander can all be eaten. Alternatively, you can allow the green seed heads to dry out, harvesting them when they go brown and resowing them for a new batch of coriander plants.
Basil is a tender plant and should be sown and kept indoors until all risk of frost has passed. It is also a favourite of slugs and snails. It will grow indoors as happily as it will in the garden, so if you have room on the kitchen windowsill, you may find it easier to grow there instead.
What herbs & spices to harvest in February
Perennial herbs and those which are reasonably frost-hardy, such as coriander and parsley, can be picked in February. These include:
Herb & spice plant maintenance in February
There are some maintenance tasks which should be undertaken with herbs early in the year:
- Monitor rosemary and lavender plants for rosemary beetle. Remove metallic beetles on sight.
- Check that the container or barriers around lemon balm and mint plants are intact. They will both go rampant if their roots are not contained. Whilst fragrant and beneficial for wildlife, they will quickly crowd out other plants.
- Repot herbs that are in containers, adding in some new compost to provide a fresh nutrient boost. This only needs to be done every 2-3 years, or when you notice the plant has lost its vigour.