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February Tips

The Ornamental Garden

  • Trees that have lost their leaves can be pruned now. Cut out dead, diseased and damaged wood. Thin out over crowded areas but avoid removing too much in one year. It’s better to spread heavy pruning over several years and limit the amount of wood you remove at any one time to no more than a third of the total. Birch trees may bleed badly if pruned too late.
  • Check that climbers are securely tied to their supports and check that old ties are not constricting older thicker stems. It’s a good time to take a look at tree ties and loosen them a bit so that they are not beginning to garrotte swelling trunks. Prevent them slipping down both the tree and the stake by nailing the tie to the stake.
  • Prune Clematis this month. Those that flower after mid summer should be cut back hard [they only flower on newly grown shoots] but those that flower before mid summer should be more lightly pruned to about 75cm. The smaller flowered and species Clematis generally only need pruning to confine them to the space you have for them.
  • Put plenty of well rotted manure around your roses. Give them a liberal dressing of Toprose* fertiliser as well.
  • Prepare for and plant new roses and fruit trees. It’s the traditional time to plant and they will be partly established when spring arrives.
  • Cut last year’s new wood on Wisteria shoots back to 3-4 inches.
  • Cut down the dead stalks of ornamental grasses but only cut the dead bits off those that are evergreen.
  • Remove the dead fronds from non evergreen hardy ferns such as Matteucia and Osmunda.
  • Prune Buddleja, Ceratostigma, Caryopteris, Perovskia, hardy Fuchsias, Lavatera and Hydrangea paniculata types hard now. Mahonia Charity can be trimmed back a little now.
  • Some shrubs grown for dramatic foliage should be hard pruned and fed. For instance Sambucus Black Lace, Paulownia, Catalpa and Melianthus.
  • If your winter flowering Jasmine has finished blooming, cut out old wood and shorten back young side shoots to about 5cm. Summer flowering ones can be cut back now too.
  • Apply fertiliser to your borders now. Use fish, blood and bone meal, Vitax Q4 or Growmore*.
  • Harden off forced Hyacinth bulbs [acclimatise them] after they have finished flowering. Then plant them out in the garden where they will thrive and flower for many years to come.
  • Pot up Lily, Nerine and other summer flowering bulbs ready to slot into gaps in the border after the risk of frost is over.
  • When snowdrops finish flowering lift crowded clumps, carefully divide them and replant immediately. Snowdrops hate to have their roots broken so be careful!
  • Dahlia tubers can be started into growth under protection now. This will produce new shoots that can be rooted to increase your stock.
  • Before the usual spring rush, paint fences and sheds and get other general maintenance jobs done. If plants are trained onto fences to be painted make certain that the paint you use is plant safe.
  • Check variegated plants for shoots that have reverted to all green. Remove these by trimming them back to the point where the leaves are uniformly variegated.
  • Could your garden look better? This is the month when it is stripped to the basic skeleton by winter and when you can assess whether an evergreen shrub, conifer or tree or perhaps an archway, pergola or statue would improve things.
  • Construct a cold frame to get early crops going
  • Go through your shed and remove any out of date and discontinued chemicals. The Local Authority recycling centre should be able to help you dispose of them safely.
  • Trim lawn edges with a sharp edging iron. Insert plastic or metal edging strips as support. It’s amazing what a difference neat lawn edges makes to the look of a garden!
  • Start to cut the lawn as required on dry mild days
  • Prepare the soil for sowing new lawns next month.

The Greenhouse

  • Sow Geraniums, fibrous rooted Begonias, Antirrhinum, Lobelia, Petunias and Impatiens. Make sure you use fresh compost, clean seed trays, some heat and fresh water!
  • Sow sweet peas in long tube pots or Rootrainers.
  • Buy plug bedding plants to take home and grow on in cell packs. These can even be grown on the windowsill for a while

The Inside Garden

  • Repot your houseplants, if they need it, into one pot size larger using good multi-purpose compost [such as our own]. Use moss poles to support taller plants.
  • Prune conservatory plants back and reshape them.

The Kitchen Garden

  • Sow early lettuce seed under protection. Plant out later for really early crops. Vailan or Tom Thumb are good tasty varieties to grow now.
  • Don’t forget to buy seed potatoes and set them up to shoot [‘chitting’]. Early varieties like ‘Rocket’ will benefit but later varieties will yield better too if encouraged into growth before planting out. If you have room for only one variety, grow ‘Charlotte’.
  • Continue to plant shallots. They prefer soil that hasn’t been used to grow onions, leeks or shallots for several years before and a well manured plot. Plant onion sets only if warm. Sow Bedfordshire Champion onion seed.
  • Lots of vegetable plants can be sown now e.g. turnips, lettuce, stump rooted carrots, early cabbage, cauliflower and spinach in trays on the windowsill. These could be planted out later this month.
  • Finish pruning and plant more fruit trees and bushes.
  • Raspberry canes and rhubarb can still be planted now.
  • If you didn’t do it earlier, cover a patch of cultivated soil with a sheet of clear polythene to trap in heat so that you can get going with early sowing outside.

The Wildlife Garden

  • Supply a range of bird food to cater for all types of birds; mixed seed on tables, meal worms for robins, fat balls for the tit family, peanuts for finches, fruit and cheese for thrushes and blackbirds, etc.
  • Regularly clean feeders and tables with a bird safe Disinfectant*.
  • Make sure that there is always fresh water available.
  • Make a log or rock pile in a quiet corner to act as a wildlife refuge.
  • Plant shrubs and trees that will provide food and shelter for wildlife in winter. Rowan, Cotoneaster, Berberis, Amelanchier, Crataegus, Buddleja, Crab apples, Pyracantha, ivy and hollies are good examples.
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