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Jobs For February


One of the best things about February is that it is a month of anticipation – you may have noticed your bulbs starting to tentatively poke up through the compost and perhaps even some new growth on some perennials. Some early spring flowers will already be hitting their stride this month – snowdrops, winter aconites and crocus will be providing much needed colour in our garden. Easing us into the pending riot of colour from the showier daffodils and tulips.
 



 


Pruning

 

If you have been holding off on the pruning jobs, then now is the time to go for it! Be it trees, shrubs or perennials most benefit from a prune at this time of year. Look out for dead and diseased growth and dispose of in a bin rather than compost, then remove any branches which are crossing each other to prevent them rubbing each other and causing damage. The main objective is to allow light and air through the plant to keep disease at bay and a cut back at this time of year will promote healthy growth for the coming year. Some shrubs like buddleia and spiraea can be cut right back to about half a foot as they flower on new growth so the harder prune the better.

Now is also the ideal time for pruning roses. Established roses should be pruned back by about a third whereas new roses should only be lightly trimmed. If unsure, do not be too concerned as roses are tough for something so beautiful and can withstand a lot - if you think you have been too drastic it is most likely that they will emerge unscathed. You can read more about this in our ‘Looking after Roses – autumn and winter care’ blog here.
 



 


On the move

 

February is also a good time to move certain plants around. The sparsity of winter tends to identify any gaps in the borders in need of a shrub, or an empty space where you can locate some more bulbs. When the early spring flowers such as bright yellow ‘Eranthis hyemalis’ or pure white snowdrops (‘Galanthus ’) have finished these can be lifted, divided and transplanted to other areas in the garden. Some deciduous shrubs, such as cornus, can be moved whilst they are dormant. This is easy to do with a strong garden fork – be sure to keep as much root attached to the plant as possible and, once in its new spot, assist the plant to establish with some fresh compost and fertiliser – a sprinkle of mycorrhizal fungi on the roots will also assist. A trim back of the top growth will help to balance out the ratio of top to root and make it more likely to survive the move.
 


 

In the greenhouse

 

If you have sown sweet peas to put down roots over the winter, then they are probably ready to ‘pinch out’ by February. This means to reduce some of the growth to encourage the seedlings to send out side shoots and ultimately more flowers. With fingertips, or snips, cut the stem down to a lower pair of true leaves – it is as simple as that! If you have not yet sown your sweet peas, then it is not too late. Sweet peas grow more strongly when thy have been exposed to a degree of cold. Plant up your sweet pea seeds in deep pots - an old grape punnet, toilet roll tube or plastic cup is ideal if you don’t have access to root trainers as all of these have enough space to accommodate the roots. Leave them on a sunny, cool windowsill until they pop their heads out above the soil, then move into them into the unheated greenhouse. This will keep them cool, so they grow with greater strength and vigour, ready for plenty of perfumed flowers by June. It is also worth checking on any plants that are overwintering in the greenhouse - be it chilli plants, pelargoniums or agapanthus. Check them all for signs of disease or fungus and continue to water minimally. Finally, bearing in mind the time of year and the low temperatures outside, it is feasible that a build-up of green algae can form on the glazing. February – before the greenhouse becomes too full - is a good time to give those windows a clean and let in as much light as possible.

 

Mulching

 

Another worthwhile exercise to carry out now is mulching. This is best done before all the borders come into full bloom, the mulch acts as both a layer of insulation and as a rejuvenation of organic matter. Compost is always a good choice and can be tailored to the plant type – remember to use ericaceous compost for acidic loving plants like heathers and azaleas. Well-rotted manure also works well, as do bark chippings, providing the mulch material is organic it will enrich the soil over the year and assist your plants to grow.



 

Pot up dahlia tubers

 

The trend for dahlias is still at an all-time high for this year. February is an excellent time to pot up tubers ready to plant them out in a few months’ time. This very straight forward job just needs pots large enough for the tuber to fit in comfortably with compost around it. Check the tubers for any signs of pests or disease as well as any that have become soft or spongy. Remove these before you begin planting. Pot up each tuber on a mound of compost (like a molehill) so that the tuber’s fingers point downwards slightly. Cover with compost and level off, then water in. Once planted and watered keep somewhere frost free with adequate light - a conservatory or a windowsill is fine if you do not have a greenhouse. We suggest ‘Dahlia Café Au Lait’ as it continues to be an incredibly popular addition to the garden with its large, creamy decorative heads (perfect for the vase) or check out Dahlia collection for a ready curated trio of harmonious dahlias which will be coveted by bees and your neighbours! If we put the list of physical jobs aside then the most important task in the latter, quiet months for the garden is to sit down and contemplate what you want from your garden for the coming year. Make yourself a cup of tea and browse our website or your favourite gardening magazine to inspire and assist you to contemplate any changes you would like to make. What needs moving before it starts growing again? Plan and decide changes and additions to the garden and begin to reconnect with your outside space after the winter – what better way to give you something to look forward to when the warmer months embark upon us…



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We promise to exchange the item or return the price you paid for the item in full. This is in addition to your statutory rights.

Hayloft Plants will not agree to refunding the costs of returning the parcel to us.

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