February gardening tips
Plant bare-rooted shrubs and trees and container-grown climbers. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, February is a great month for planting as the soil will soon be warming up, encouraging new roots to grow and helping the plant to become established. Remember to plant climbers about 10” away from walls so they are not in a rain shadow.
This is an important month for pruning - cut late summer and autumn flowering clematis down to 12” - seems draconian but they will quickly grow to their old height and produce flowers all the way up into the bargain! Attend to overgrown hardy evergreens, straggly hedges and wisteria if you haven’t already done so (cut all shoots coming from the permanent branches to 2-3 buds of the previous season’s growth - this will encourage the development of more flowering spurs). Prune deciduous coloured leaved shrubs grown for their foliage, like the purple-leaved elders - be brutal and leave literally a couple of shoots or buds on each stem unless you want a larger specimen, in which case leave a few lightly pruned stems to spring forth. In all cases feed your shorn plant with organic fertiliser and mulch with manure or compost for a great start to the growing season.
Lastly, prune roses by taking out all dead, weak and crossing stems. Cut hybrid tea roses back to about 8” to an outward facing bud and cut floribundas (those with flowers in clusters) down to 10-12”.
Once the weather eases off, remove the top layer of soil from pot-grown shrubs and replace with fresh potting compost that contains a slow-release fertiliser.