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What to Do In The Garden In February

Even though the weather is never at its best at this time of year, there’s no excuse for not getting out in the garden. February may be the shortest month, but there’s still plenty for the active gardener to be doing, whether that’s pruning, tidying, sowing or planting. So put on your waterproofs and gloves and get out there. You’ll get ample reward for your hard work when the garden bursts into bloom in spring. Here are Ladybrook Nursery’s top gardening tasks for February.

In the garden:

  • Prune your Wisteria now, cutting back summer side-shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
  • Towards the end of the month prune summer-flowering Clematis before active growth begins.
  • Cut back shrubs such as Cornus and Salix cultivars, (grown for their colourful winter stems) down to their bases.
  • Cut back the old foliage from ornamental grasses before growth begins – clip them to within a few centimetres of the ground.
  • Prune overwintered fuchsias back to one or two buds on each shoot.
  • Prune Winter Flowering Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) after flowering to encourage new growth for next year’s blooms. Cut back the previous year’s growth to 5cm from the old wood.
  • Prune winter flowering shrubs such as Mahonia and Viburnum x bodnantense after their colourful display has finished.
  • Trim winter-flowering heathers as the flowers disappear, to prevent the plants becoming leggy.
  • Remove any faded flowers from your winter pansies to stop them setting seed. This will encourage a flush of new flowers when the weather warms up.
  • Lift and divide snowdrops still ‘in the green’ if you want to move them or create more plants.
  • If you need to move deciduous trees or shrubs, now is the time to do it provided the soil is not frozen or waterlogged.
  • Plant Lilies and Allium bulbs.
  • Plant bare root roses in a sunny position for spectacular summer colour.
  • Plant fragrant winter flowering shrubs like Daphne, Viburnum, Witch Hazel and Wintersweet to add interest to borders.
  • Hardwood cuttings taken last year may need planting or potting on now.
  • Pot on rooted cuttings of tender perennial plants taken last summer.
  • Look out for Hellebore leaf spot (rounded brown spots on the leaves) and remove any leaves that are affected.

In the greenhouse:

  • Don’t be tempted to sow too many seeds this early in the season, as they may become leggy because of the low light levels at this time of year. Later seed sowings will catch up and grow just as fast.
  • For better seed germination, invest in an electric propagator to help your early sowings along.
  • Soak sweet pea seeds in tepid water overnight before planting, to speed up germination.

Other jobs in the garden:

  • Trim deciduous hedges before the birds start nesting.
  • Vines such as Ivy, Virginia Creeper and Boston Ivy can be cut back now to keep windows, gutters and roof tiles clear.
  • If you’re adding woody prunings to compost bins, shred or chop them first as they are slow to decompose.
  • Wash empty pots by scrubbing them with hot water and a mild detergent. Rinse them well afterwards.
  • The weather is still cold this month so hang fat balls and keep bird feeders topped up to attract birds, who will in turn eat pests in your garden.
  • Install water butts now ready for the summer. Rainwater is particularly useful for watering acid-loving, ericaceous plants (tap water is often slightly alkaline).
  • If you don’t already know what type of soil you have, invest in a soil testing kit to help you choose the right plants for your garden.
  • Consider covering unattractive sheds, composting areas and bins using evergreen climbers Like Clematis armandii or Clematints.

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