The garden seems to slowly start coming to life again, after a few months of dormancy.
Towards the end of February, temperatures slowly rise, light levels increase and the dawn chorus increases in volume. Buds on the early spring blossom begin to open and the flowering bulbs begin to push through the soil. Spring is definitely around the corner!
February marks the beginning of the gardening year for most. The shed is given a spring-clean, treasured terracotta pots and tools are given their annual wash and window sills are transformed into mini-greenhouses, with pots of early sown seeds competing for space. February will be a busy month, as people prepare to sow seeds with wild abandon.
Here are some tips for gardening both indoor and outdoor in February:
- Remove faded flowers from container-grown plants. This will encourage more flowers during spring and prevent them from going to seed. Early flowering Primulas should be deadheaded regularly to encourage fresh flowers. Remove any dead or decaying leaves from container plants, to avoid encouraging slugs and snails in early spring. Continue to ensure containers remain well watered, especially if they are planted with spring bulbs. Avoid watering during periods of frost.
- Once Snowdrops have flowered, congested clumps can be lifted and divided and planted ‘in the green’. Simply dig out a clump and divide, taking care to ensure the green leaves remain attached to the bulb. Replant as individual bulbs in an area with damp soil and dappled shade. Snowdrops are best planted in the green., as their bulbs dry out quicker than other spring-flowering bulbs and they are available to buy online from bulb merchants.
- Cut back deciduous grasses to the ground, if they have been let unpruned over winter. Remove dead material from evergreen grasses, to make space for new growth in the coming months. Continue to tidy up decaying material from around perennials and remove remaining leaf litter from borders, so as not to encourage the slugs and snails as they arrive in early spring.
- Tomatoes and Chilli Peppers can be sown under glass towards the end of the month. Preferably in a heated propagator or on a warm windowsill with lots of light. Avoid sowing too early, as you may end up with leggy plants. Ideally, sowing should be completed ten weeks before the last predicted frost.
- Citrus plants, which have been over-wintered indoors, can be given a prune to encourage bushy growth. Congested branches can be cut back by two-thirds, using clean, sharp secateurs. Soil can be refreshed by removing the top two to three inches of old compost and replaced with fresh citrus compost. Overwintering citrus can be challenging for the most experienced gardeners – ensure that indoor grown plants do not dry out completely and that they are kept away from radiators and drafts. A small amount of winter citrus feed once a month may do you plants some good, check leaves for pest and diseases regularly.