February is a great month for gardening as spring is in sight, with bulbs starting to emerge, lighter evenings and birds starting to chirp. Be sure to prune, tidy and look after plants that struggle in the cold this month.
Divide and replant snowdrops as the flowers go over.
Pot up or transplant last year’s hardwood cuttings.
Brush snow off conifers and heathers if there is heavy snowfall in order to prevent branches and stems from being broken.
Plant some lilies in deep pots and keep them in the greenhouse, ready for transfer to the flower border when the flowers develop.
Prune shrub roses in late February to encourage growth from the base. Remove some old shoots, but don’t reduce height too much as they tend to flower on older wood.
Don’t apply heavy fertiliser applications to naturalized bulbs as this will only encourage the surrounding grass.
Make sure the hellebores have been tidied up with the removal of all the old leaves to make way for the new flowers and leaves, which will arise very shortly.
Plant roses as soil conditions permit, and prune stems of new HT and Floribunda roses down to an outward-facing bud, 75 to 150cm above the graft. Firm the soil around the roots.
When the weather is too cold to do much else, turn the compost heap upside down and inside out to ensure that all the outside materials will be rotted down as soon as possible.
Cut back Clematis Jackmanii and C. Vitticella groups to about 30cm. Pyracanthas should be pruned to within two buds of the main framework except for required extensions, if not already completed last autumn.
Continue to plant new fruit trees and bushes when conditions allow and apply a 12cm thick mulch of well-rotted compost to the root zone, allowing a 10cm space between compost and the trunk or stem to prevent future stem rot.
Prune-established fruit trees other than damsons and cherries. Prune newly planted fruit trees to shape and reduce leading shoots by half.
Check that house drains and other run-off areas from the garden are not choked by rotting leaves. Also applies to the lawn!
Check stored fruits for signs of rot, and throw out partially damaged fruit for the birds.
Check fruit trees for mummified fruits still retained in the branches, and remove and destroy them to help prevent further disease in the coming summer.
Prune out old fruiting canes on autumn fruiting raspberries down to soil level. Remove a quarter of the old branches to the base to encourage strong new growth.
Before you start clearing leaves or forking over bare areas, check for bulbs which have started growing and are just below the surface.
Take hardwood cuttings of forsythia, deutzia, honeysuckle, jasmine, Virginia creeper, holly, privet, cotoneaster, poplar, willow, gooseberries etc.
Invest in a soil thermometer. When the soil temperature exceeds 5 deg. C, start sowings of hardy crops such as carrots, lettuce, and radish direct into the ground.
Clean out bird boxes again and sterilize them with a kettle full of boiling water before new nesting materials are introduced.
Apply a mulch of garden compost, mushroom compost or similar, to all trees and shrubs in potentially dry sites. No need to incorporate it into the soil; worms will be pleased to do it for you!
Don’t apply mushroom compost, which has a high lime content, to acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons and azaleas.
Posted 6th Feb 10:28am