February 2019 – Spring is nearly here, but keep an eye on the forecasts Comments Off

I’m never quite sure if I like February or not, winter is slowing drawing to a close but spring hasn’t quite arrived. The good news though for us gardeners is that temperatures are on the rise, the snowdrops are looking spectacular, daffodils are starting show and you can almost smell spring in the air.

However, if the weather does take a turn for the worst, last year we got snow at the end of February, it is worth making plans now to ensure your tender plants are protected and don’t become winter casualties. This is quite simple and for most exotic plants, such as olives, Oleanders, palm trees and Cordylines, it just means wrapping them up in several layers of horticultural fleece. Horticultural fleece is widely available from garden centres and DIY stores and is a very important investment; after all it’s cheaper than buying new plants. Bubble wrap or old carpet can also work quite well but the trouble with bubble wrap is that it does allow moisture to build up around the stem which will make the plant prone to rotting if you leave it on too long.

With Cordylines it’s a good idea to bunch the leaves up together with your hands first and then loosely tie with soft twine. This will make fleecing them so much easier and effective. You will need to wrap the plant at least 4 or 5 times to do any good.

With bananas (Musa basjoo), as well as fleecing the stem, it is also worth protecting the base of the plant, by piling up extra compost or bark chips around it. This will add extra insulation to a tender part of the plant

If you have tree ferns then you will need to protect the crown, or the growing point of the plant. Do this by packing in straw or old newspaper into the top and then cover the whole thing with an old pot or bucket to keep the rain out.

A good tip for protecting tender plants with narrow stems is to use foam pipe lagging. This is available in different sizes and can be cut to size so that it fits snugly round the stem like a nice warm jacket.

If you have plants in pots then get someone to help you bring them in on the coldest nights, even if it’s just into the garage or shed.

As far as gardening jobs for February, there’s not an awful lot to do that won’t wait until March so unless we get some good sunny days and you want to get stuck in, keep warm and stay inside. There are some colourful plants starting to appear in the garden centres now so why not inject a bit of colour to lift your spirits. It’s also a good time to plant bare root hedging, as long as the grounds not frozen, and there are some great deals both online and in larger garden centres.

Spring isn’t too far away now……..

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