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.
- 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.