Winter is on the way out this month as the first signs of spring start to appear, with bulbs such as snowdrops starting to emerge. There's plenty to be doing this month in the garden, from planting to final winter pruning and cleaning out the bird boxes for #BirdFeedingMonth. Check out our hints and tips put together by our chairman and Horticulturist, John Richardson below.
Plant container-grown perennials for an early start to the spring. If large plants, consider carefully dividing them before planting; we all enjoy getting a bit extra at no cost !!
Be sure to water root-balls before planting. If there is a dry spring, it may significantly slow growth.
Apply a mulch of garden compost, mushroom compost etc., to all trees and shrubs in potentially dry sites. No need to incorporate it into the soil; worms will do it for you! Don't apply mushroom compost, which has a high lime content, to acid-loving plants such as Azaleas & Rhododendrons.
Finish winter pruning this month. First-principles are to remove dead and diseased stems, then cross branches, followed by a reduction in the height of the main stems in the case of roses.
Cut bushy Eucalyptus back to within 2-3" of the main stem to stimulate a flush of bushy growth.
Examine stored Dahlia tubers and place them in a tub of tepid water overnight if they have shrivelled. Cutaway diseased areas of the tubers that have rotted and dust the cuts with flowers of sulphur.
Do not apply heavy dressings of fertilizer to areas of naturalized bulbs as this will only encourage the growth of the surrounding grass.
Prune shrub roses in late February to encourage growth from the base. Remove some of the old weedy shoots but don't reduce height too much as they tend to flower on older wood.
Divide and replant Snowdrops 'in the green' as the flowers go over.
Take hardwood cuttings of forsythia, deutzia, honeysuckle, jasmine, Virginia creeper, holly, privet, cotoneaster, poplar, willow, gooseberries, blackcurrants etc. and heel-in, in a protected area.
When the ground is firm, repair any uneven areas of the lawn or where the grass has died out.
Pot up or transplant last year's rooted hardwood cuttings.
If the weather warms up, take the opportunity to prepare compost and boxes for sowing half-hardy annuals by the end of the month. You should have a heat source available for cold nights.
Cut back Clematis Jackmanii and C. Viticella groups to about 12". Pyracantha should be pruned to within 2 buds of the mainframe except for extensions, if not done last autumn.
Put a suitable number of chitted potatoes into a good-sized plastic pot and cover with 20cm of compost. Water as appropriate and continue to add compost as foliage growth continues. Leave to mature and water frequently. Harvest the potatoes when foliage begins to die back.
Clean out and sterilize existing bird nesting boxes and erect new ones. Feed the birds!
Propagate a wide range of woody shrubs by layering, towards the end of the month. Peg down a young shoot into the soil under the shrub/tree without detaching it from the tree, but make a cut in the underneath of the stem, or twist it at the point where it will turn it upwards. Pin this down with a suitable forked twig into a couple of handfuls of compost water, and hold firm with a suitable stone. Tie the growing shoot to a small cane to keep it upright and trim to prevent moving in the wind.
Posted 2nd Feb 11:59am