February garden plant maintenance

February garden plant maintenance in Wokingham and Maidenhead

Berkshire and surrounding areas

Garden maintenance in February

Snowdrops at Welford Park near Newbury

February, it is hoped, will not only be slightly warmer and the days longer, but all signs of spring in the garden will be obvious.

In the right conditions, it is possible for seeds to germinate this  early in the year, although a warm benign environment is needed. Few gardeners can afford the luxury of a heated greenhouse so this means bringing seed trays into the house, or using a heated propagator mat and placing the seed trays in a porch or unheated conservatory. Light levels are very low in February so seeding is not easy and plants need to be turned regularly to keep even growth. If all goes well, plants will mature early but March and April are easier because of the extra light and warmth.

Some vegetables suitable for seeding in February are aubergines, beetroot, chillies, courgettes and cucumbers, french beans, lettuce, rocket and tomatoes. Many of the popular garden plants suitable for seeding in February would be Ageratum, Antirrhinum, Calendula, Cornflower, French Marigolds, Nigella, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Scabious and Zinnia.

We always associate spring with bulbs such as daffodils, crocus and hyacinth but there are many lovely summer bulbs too, usually planted in the autumn. However, early spring provides another opportunity. Allium make a fabulous display and mix so well with many popular plants and, if planted in February, will flower in late spring and early summer. Allium are easy to grow and once established return reliably each year.

Lilies can be planted in February/March and make a great scented display. They do not like heavy wet soil as this can make them less reliable in later years but will do well planted in containers.

Anemone can be planted now. The corms (bulbs) are best soaked overnight before planting. Lots of summer-flowering bulbs are available in garden centres from now on: do check the packets carefully as not all can withstand frost.

The best chance of ensuring summer bulbs flower the following year is to feed them during the growing season right up to flowering. Tomato feed is ideal.

Crocosmia are easy to grow and can also be planted in spring; not only will they will flower late in summer making a great display but they can be relied upon to return each year. Some varieties can be a little invasive which can be the case with plants that are so easy to grow.

If you want to tidy up or reduce the size of evergreen shrubs you can prune in February. In a mixed border, pruning the lower stems nearer the ground lifts the canopy to allow more light for plants. Check each plant before pruning and be careful as pruning at the wrong time can result in no flowers. Plants which flower on last year’s growth need to be pruned later, after flowering, which is usually later spring/summer – not late winter/spring or you will cut off the stems on which flower buds are forming.

As ever, all this can be done for you by a team from Gardeneer who are only too happy to help.

Garden maintenance in February

  • Clear away dead foliage from perennials, chop it up and add it to the compost heap.
  • Trim back ivy and Virginia creeper from around windows and guttering.
  • Cut back ornamental miscanthus grass before new shoots start developing.
  • Order seed potatoes, onion sets and shallots.
  • Cover clumps of rhubarb with buckets or terracotta pots to force early stems.
  • Use cloches to warm the soil for early sowings.
  • Water pot plants sparingly and avoid wetting foliage.
  • Bring potted hyacinths and bulbs under cover to bloom.
  • A huge variety of summer-flowering bulbs appear in garden centres now and, although it’s too early to plant them, this is the time to buy them to ensure you get the variety you want.
  • Some lawns will probably have a good crop of moss by now, especially if the drainage is poor. If there is a dry spell, spike or scarify to remove the moss and brush a top dressing of sharp sand into the holes.