February Garden Chores For 2013

Ilona Erwin

February in Ohio is the prime month to plant seeds indoors. Getting a headstart on such plants as tomatoes and pepper, as well as many blooming annuals. Check the seed packets for the best time schedule needed for that specific variety, but many plants can be started indoors in February.

Lobelia, Ageratum, Verbena, Petunia, Vinca, and other slow growing plants should be started indoors in the latter part of this month. Celery, leek, or onion transplants should get a February start.

Most seedlings take eight weeks or less, and should be delayed until March to begin starting in seed pots or flats. Tall, spindly plants are not desirable.

We expect much more winter weather, but thaws are part of the regular February weather pattern. Heel in any perennial that have heaved out of the ground, so their roots are not exposed to drying winds and returning freezes.

February 2, Groundhog Day

Are you following Punxsutawney Phil? Groundhog day marks the prediction for the remainder of winter weather for many people: if it is cloudy when a groundhog comes out of his burrow, then spring will come early; if sunny, Phil sees his shadow and winter weather can be expected to continue for six more weeks. According to folklore, anyway.

Pruning Dormant Plants

Ten best pruning tips lists tips for you if you have some pruning chores on your list. Remember that it is better to prune dormant plants, to avoid moisture loss, entry of disease and insects. Master Garden pruning advice.

It is this month when I find good days to do the necessary pruning on fruit trees and shrubs. This is also the time to prune the clematis vines that bloom on new wood, such as the Autumn clematis and the Jackmanii types.

Clematis vines
Autumn clematis
Clematis and Roses

Do not prune early spring flowering shrubs, or you will lose this year’s flowers.

Remove dead, damaged branches and generally shape up your shrubs and ornamental trees.

Dormant pruning information

Prune your grapevines, now.

In making your vegetable garden plans remember that tomato plants and broccoli must be rotated each year. Don’t plant them in the same ground each year, because of disease problems.

Do you have garden clogs or boots? Now would be a good time to invest in a pair, since we are entering the muddy season for garden work. I like the ease of slip-on clogs that are washable. A good pair of these plus some sturdy garden gloves are a gardener’s best friends.

Great shoes for gardeners

February Task Checklist

Quicklist for a month when we often think there is little to do in the garden. It is a month of preparation for those of us cooped up in cold winter conditions. Puttering around in the potting shed or with a plant stand can be a welcome distractions. I like to make my plans and get my seeds from the nursery this month, and there is still time to order from a catalog.

  • Keep walks cleared and de-iced, so you don’t slip and fall.
  • Heel in perennials
  • Seed tender annual plants, root cuttings
  • Get garden season materials in order: buy seeds, ready tools, buy fertilizers, etc.
  • Fertilize evergreens
  • Finish up garden plans, ready garden journal (purchase pages, notebook, or set up online)
  • Check on stored bulbs
  • Begin sprouting tuberous begonias. Directions for storing and starting tuberous begonias.


Fertilize shrubs and evergreens in mid to late February.

Broad leaf evergreens, such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Pieris Japonica need acid conditions and fertilizers. All purpose fertilizers are fine for Roses and most of the deciduous spring blooming shrubs

Valentine’s Day Plants

Did you receive some beautiful plants from your special someone? If they are in the form of cut flowers remember to change out the water and add fresh floral preservative to help them last as long as possible.

Heathers, Cyclamen, and Gardenias are all romantic gift plants that are given on Valentine’s Day. Miniature roses are popular and can be a bit of a challenge. Although I have planted mine outside in the spring, and some varieties fare quite well.

Care for miniature roses:

  • Minimum of 5-6 hours sunlight in bright window.
  • Temperature range of 60° at night and 70° in the day
  • Plant in plenty of water in well-drained soil
  • Fertilize with 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 ratio at 1/2 manufacturers recommended strength every three weeks

February Garden Tips

What’s an “open winter”? For gardeners, this is an winter weather pattern that has freeze and thaws, but little to no snow cover. the danger of mild temperatures is that growth starts prematurely and frost actions heaves pants from the ground to expose their roots to subsequent freezing and dring winds. There is more plant loss to these conditions than to even severely cold weather when there is insulating snow cover. Mulch can still be applied to plants during these open conditions, to protect the roots and crown of a plant.

Purchase seed flats, containers, and peat pellets this month

Forsythia and other early blooming shrubs may be brought indoors by cutting branches and forcing them.

Force forsythia branches

  • Always cut branches that have buds on them
  • Remove buds that will be under water level
  • Crush the stem end and immerse in warm water
  • Allow the forsythia stems to soak up the warm water for several hours.
  • Change out the water every few days, add a drop of bleach or floral preservative to keep water clear.
  • Place in a sunny spot.
Forsythia Plant Profile

February Garden Calender
Remember the birds

My garden is in Zone 5 in Ohio. If your is in a warmer or colder zone, the tasks will have a somewhat different timetable. It is helpful to check with your extension agent.

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.