Always knowing when to
plant, prune, and harvest.

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February in the Garden: What You Need to Do This Month

Cheryl Spencer from Simply Smart Gardening
Inside: February gardening tasks.

Do you start each gardening season hoping to get the most from your garden?

What if you could grow a garden that thrives, enjoy flowers and vegetables right out of the gate, and not have to toil for hours in the hot sun while mosquitoes dine on your neck to make it happen?

Sound like a pipe dream? It’s not!

The most common mistake I see gardeners make is waiting too long to get started.

Even though it’s cold outside right now, there are signs that spring will soon be here — the days are getting longer, songbirds are beginning to migrate, and the earliest bulbs will poke up out of the ground before you know it.

To have a successful gardening season this year, you need to start NOW.

Getting started now means you won’t be behind when the thick of gardening season hits. You won’t be scrambling to get everything done all at once. And you’ll have some time to relax and enjoy your garden.

Keep reading to learn what you can do this month that will set this year’s garden up for success now.


february gardening snow covered berries
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February Gardening: What to Plant

  • Start seeds indoors of spring- or summer-blooming annuals, vegetables, and perennials. Check through your seed packets to see what needs to be started now.
  • Plant a terrarium. Look for clear-glass containers that have a lid so you can maintain a humid environment around your plants. Good plant choices include Pilea, Pepperomia, Ivy, Artillery fern, Button fern, Baby tears, and Creeping fig.
  • Brighten the dark, dreary days of winter with blooming tropical plants such as orchids and bromeliads. They can provide a welcome dose of color to every room in your home. With minimum attention, orchids and bromeliads will bloom for months!

February Gardening Maintenance Tasks

  • Get out and prune when your soil is frozen and before the buds swell on your trees. Deciduous trees benefit from a late-winter cleanup. Some species, such as maple, walnuts, and birches, may “bleed”—when the sap begins to flow. This is not harmful to the tree. It’s more of a cosmetic issue.
  • Be on the lookout for dead, damaged, or diseased wood in trees and shrubs and prune it out.
  • To clean crusty clay pots, add one cup each of white vinegar and household bleach (use ½ as much concentrated bleach) to a gallon of warm water and soak the pots. For heavily crusted pots, scrub with a steel wool pad after soaking for 12 hours.
  • While you’re out there pruning, cut some forsythia, quince, hawthorn, serviceberry, or cherry branches to force inside.
  • Repair and paint (or replace) window boxes, lawn furniture, tools, and other items in preparation for outdoor gardening and recreational use.
  • Watch weather conditions for an appropriate window of time to spray fruit trees or large deciduous trees with dormant oil.

February Lawn Care Schedule

  • For easier lawn maintenance, plan to eliminate the hard to mow spaces this year. Eliminate acute angles in beds and borders. Connect single trees to a larger planting area.
  • To avoid injury to lawns, keep foot traffic to a minimum when soils are wet or frozen.
  • If it’s dry this month, because you’ve had no significant snowfall, water your lawn every week or two when the daytime temperature is at least 40 degrees (F).

Garden Planning and Journaling in February

  • Order summer-blooming bulbs such as lilies and gladiolus.
  • Order perennial plants and bulbs now for cut flowers this summer. Good choices are phlox, daisies, coreopsis, asters, and lilies.
  • Organize your seed packets by seed starting date.
  • Line up hired help, if necessary, to handle spring chores. Landscape workers are busiest during this season and can get booked out quickly.
  • This year plan to grow at least one new vegetable you’ve never grown before. It could be a type of vegetable or a different variety.
  • Now is a good time to learn to identify trees by their winter twigs and buds.


Wildlife in Your February Garden

  • Report robin sightings to Journey North.
  • Take part in the great backyard bird count.
  • Set up a nest cam in one or more of your nestboxes.
  • Don’t have a nest box yet? This is the perfect time to set them up. Nesting birds will be scouting for suitable homes soon!
  • If bird feeding has turned into a favorite activity this winter, consider adding trees and shrubs that’ll provide cover and food for your backyard birds. Planting suitable shrubs, trees, vines and evergreens for the birds will provide wild food sources and nesting habitat.
  • At your bird feeding station, include a selection of feeders such as tube, hopper, and platform to accommodate the feeding habits of different birds.
  • Late winter storms often bury birds’ natural food supplies, and a well-stocked feeding station will provide life-giving nourishment to our feathered friends.

February Houseplant Care

  • Continue to turn and prune house plants regularly. Pinch back new growth to promote bushier plants.
  • This month many houseplants can start to show signs of stress caused by light deprivation, overwatering, lack of humidity, and overheated indoor air. Stressed plants are more likely to develop insect and disease problems, so watch your plants for early signs of trouble.
  • There’s still time to put indoor herbs, as well as smaller houseplants, under artificial lights to supplement the diminished natural sunlight. Pinch back any leggy growth.
  • Don’t fertilize your houseplants this month. They don’t need fertilizer in the winter due to slower growth rates.
  • This is a good time to air-layer house plants such as dracaena, dieffenbachia, and rubber plant, especially if they have grown too tall and leggy.


Hi! I’m Cheryl.

I believe you can grow your dream garden and still have time to enjoy it.

I’ll show you how easy it can be to have a garden that fits into your lifestyle, wows your neighbors, and makes your family say “more veggies, please!”

Cheryl Spencer, Certified Gardener Hi, I’m Cheryl. I’m a certified gardener, bird lover, and spreadsheet enthusiast. I believe you can grow your dream garden and still have time to enjoy it. I teach online gardening courses and write articles that help you save time and money in your garden. Join my mailing list, and as a bonus, you’ll get a helpful checklist that’ll tell you what to do in your garden right now.

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