February Gardening.

February can feel like the start of spring, it can also feel like winter is never going to end. Luckily, if you’ve finished your winter pruning and clearing, there isn’t too much to do outside. Instead turn your attention to seed sowing!
February is the perfect month to sow seeds of annual climbers. Many of the climbers recommended here take some time to get going so to avoid a disappointing show seeds must be sown early in the year. Often from tropical parts of the world annual climbers can rapidly transform the garden. Climbing annuals will flower non-stop throughout summer until the frosts, producing striking blooms and sculptural leaves. Annual climbers are often grown as fast cover-ups for sunny fences and trellises, but they make excellent pot plants for large containers on a sunny patio. Most annual climbers twine by tendrils and require suitable structures on which to climb. Consider attaching plastic netting or frames to fences, installing wires and using canes or pea sticks for support.
To encourage germination, soak the seeds overnight in cold water to soften their coating. Sow your seeds individually into 3” pots filled with a seed-sowing compost and place in a warm propagator to give them a head start. Remember to label your pots! Seedlings should appear within two to three weeks. After germination, wait until they’re big enough to prick out and grow on in larger pots of fresh compost. Pinch out the tips of new growth this will create a better shape and multiply the flowering shoots. From April, gradually harden off plants in readiness for moving outdoors.
Once the threat of frost has passed your seedlings can be planted outside. If you are using containers choose a loam-based compost like John Innes no 2 – it holds water efficiently, preventing your climbers from drying out too quickly. They’ll need plenty of water when they’re in growth, so don’t let them dry out and feed them every couple of weeks. These plants love the sun, If you hide them in the shade they’re liable to sulk and put on a disappointing display.
Here are some of my favourites:
• Sweet peas are available in every colour option you can imagine. I like the variety “Incense Mixed” it has strong fragrance and elegant colours.
• Morning Glory ‘Grandpa Otts’ very dramatic intense violet blue flowers
• Thunbergia alata (Black eyed susan)
• Rhodochiton atrosanguineus (purple bell vine)
• Eccremocarpus scaber (Chilean glory flower)
• Ipomoea lobate (Spanish Flag)
Come next February, you can choose a whole new batch of climbing annuals for a different colour scheme or planting effect.
Here are a few other gardening jobs for February:
• Plant a container or hanging basket with colourful primroses and place by a doorway.
• Prune over wintered fuchsia’s back to 2 buds on each shoot.
• Protect blossom on apricots, nectarines and peaches using horticultural fleece.
• Plant out snowdrops ‘in the green’.
• Chit Seed Potatoes
Whatever February brings, I hope you are able to enjoy some time in your garden.
Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk

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