February is a season of opportunity, to instil the first emergence of life into the cold ground, setting the stage for a vibrant display of blossoms, a rich harvest of vegetables, and the awakening of plants, in the warmer months to follow. ‘What can I plant in February’ is a commonly-asked question but whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a budding newbie, February can be a time of new beginnings in the garden. It’s a chance to plan for the year ahead, and to witness the promise of spring in the hardy green shoots that begin to brave the frosts.
This article will explain what to plant in February in the UK. The flowers that will inject early colour, the plants that will stand resilient through the last winter days, the vegetables that will pave the way for a rewarding harvest, and the fruits that will begin their journey to summer sweetness.
Prepare Your Garden for February
Much like January, it’s still cold in February in the UK, and growing conditions can vary dramatically over the length and breadth of the country. But whatever the weather in your locale, there are a few things that can help you on your way to a successful season of sowing.
A propagator is a modular seed tray that helps to germinate your seedlings at a constant, ambient temperature. Once germinated, they can be moved outside later in the growing cycle.
A cold frame is roughly halfway between a cloche and a greenhouse. If you want to know what bulbs to plant in February, a cold frame provides protection for your seeds and tender plants.
Selecting a greenhouse depends mainly on money and space. For more serious gardeners, a greenhouse protects plants from bad weather as well as a number of pests and diseases. They may also extend your growing seasons.
Make sure you’re equipped with the mainstays of indoor growing including seed trays, pots and a good quality soil or compost.
What to Plant in February - Vegetables
If you want to know what seeds to plant in February, you’re spoiled for choice. In the greenhouse you can start to chit your early potatoes. Chitting is the process of placing seed potatoes in a cool, light place to encourage sprouting before planting.
You can also plant chillies, broad beans and leeks, as well as cucumber, celeriac and tomato seeds. Tomatoes require a long growing season and should be kept in a greenhouse or transferred outdoors only when the risk of frost has passed.
You can start to grow herbs such as thyme and basil on your windowsill and if the frost has gone, you can sow certain types of beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower and kale under covers in the garden.
Towards the end of the month, you can sow parsnips and Jerusalem artichoke tubers straight into the ground. You can also plant salad onions like White Lisbon, and shallots like Longor directly into the soil.
Sowing & Growing Fruit in February
Are you looking at your fruit garden and asking yourself ‘what can I plant in February?’
February is a ‘berry’ good month for planting bare-root raspberry canes and blackberries. If the soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged, you can plant gooseberries as well as red, white and blackcurrants and you can also plant fruit trees now such as apricots, nectarines and peaches.
If you have strawberry plants that are over three years old, it’s a good idea to replace them by planting new bare-root strawberry plants.
You can also move the rhubarb you put into your heated propagator in January into an area with well-drained soil that catches the sun (if it makes an appearance!)
What Flowers to Plant in February
There are lots of flower seeds that start well in propagators including sweet peas (although these can be planted directly into the soil) and snapdragons. You can start your dahlias in pots ready to transfer them outside when the weather gets a bit warmer.
You can add French marigolds, nigella (also known as Love-in-a-Mist), the brightly-coloured zinnia and salvia, also known as ornamental sage.
Deciding what bulbs to plant in February really does depend on the weather. The classic February bulbs include daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths, but you also get a second opportunity to plant the bulbs you forgot to do in the autumn!
Alliums are pretty easy to grow and will usually return every year. If you’ve got light soil, lilies are perfect. Anemones are also beautifully bright early-flowering plants, and the fiery crocosmia thrive in a wide range of soil conditions and will usually last all the way to late autumn.