FEBRUARY IN THE GARDEN
February is often deemed to be the hottest month of the year. Rainfall can be erratic and dry periods can literally burn up the garden. This month is always a bit of problem for many plants, especially those from temperate climates. Watering and weeding form part of the survival strategy for this time of the year.
- Many summer flowering annuals start coming to the end of their flowering season and need to be removed.
- Continue dead heading plants that are still blooming.
- Regular watering is vital during dry periods.
- Collect ripe seed of flowers that you wish to grow for next season.
- Prepare seed and flower beds for autumn planting.
- Prepare trenches for planting sweetpeas.
- Do not be tempted to plant out early flower seedlings of pansies and violas. They, like most other winter flowering annuals, do not grow in the heat.
- Remove summer vegetables that are coming to the end of their productive cycle and prepare for planting winter and spring crops.
- Check pumpkins, marrows and cucumbers for mildew.
- Harvest the last of the summer crops.
- Sow early crops of peas and broad beans in the cooler climates.
- Try and keep weeds under control by hoeing between the rows.
- Water during dry periods.
- Many herbs battle with the heat and may succumb to humidity fatigue.
- Continue sowing regular crops of quick herbs like coriander and rocket.
- Fertilise to try and encourage healthy growth during this trying period.
- Harvest ripe fruit and process for storage.
- Protect ripening fruit from birds.
- Top dress citrus trees with compost or well decomposed animal manure.
- Nuts (pecans, walnuts and chestnuts) start falling and need to be collected or harvested.
- Continue disposing of fruit that has fallen on the ground by burying it.
- Apply a general fertiliser to the whole garden, especially around larger shrubs which often make an autumn growth spurt.
- Dead head cannas and alstroemerias by pulling up the spent stems from below ground level.
- Water camellias to prevent them from aborting flower buds.
- Salvias thrive in the heat and will soon make a spectacular autumn display. Make sure they are fed and dead headed.
- Prune summer flowering rambling and climbing roses.
- Continue fertiliser programme to ensure a spectacular autumn flowering flush.
- Water deeply during dry periods.
- Spray every 10 to 14 days to prevent fungal infection.
- Pay particular attention to redspider mites. Use a magnifying glass to check the undersides of the leaves.
- Dead head spent flowers.
- Apply the last application of high nitrogen fertiliser.
- Water during hot dry periods.
- Mow frequently.
- Be on the lookout for fungal infections like fairy ring, dollar spot and brown patches.
- Lawn caterpillar is often rife at this time of year.
- Check tree ties and standard rose ties for tightness and strangulation.
- Trim and prune hedges.
- Take cuttings of soft wooded herbs and shrubs.
- Keep ponds clean and trim back excessive plant growth.