Can you smell that? The whiff of spring is in the air (it's so close!) and all we can think about is this: what to plant in February to ensure our gardens are filled with flowers, fruits, vegetables, and glorious greenery when the sun starts shining in earnest again.
Sowing seeds, planting bulbs, and looking forward to brighter days are easily some of our favourite jobs to do in the garden in February – although there's no denying that it's just as vital to prepare raised beds, get composting, and clean out that greenhouse, too.
Once all of that garden admin is out of the way, though, it's time to get stuck into sowing season. So, what to grow in February?
What to plant in February
Whether you want to grow your own fruit and vegetables, fill your garden borders with flowers, or start sussing out the best trees and hedging plants for your outdoor space, you'd best believe that February is the time to get to work.
'During a long winter, it can seem like spring is so far away but by February there is plenty to do in the garden, including sowing seeds and finishing planting bare root hedging and trees – very soon winter will be a distant memory,' promises Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries.
Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants. He established the thriving business in 1992, shortly after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex.
With that in mind, then, it’s time to get your gardening gloves on and prepare your garden for the year ahead with our pick of what to plant in February.
Best fruit and vegetables to sow in February
Whether you're looking for the very easiest vegetables to grow – or interested in testing your skills with something like this year's big purple vegetables GYO trend – there are plenty of fruit and vegetables worth sowing in February.
If you've always fancied learning how to grow rhubarb, you're in luck: it's one of the best things to plant in February.
'If you're working with dormant rhubarb crowns, the best times to plant them are between February and March – so long as the soil is not waterlogged or frozen,' says Christopher O'Donoghue, one of the co-directors at Gardens Revived.
A gardener with over a decade of experience under his belt, Christopher set up Gardens Revived with his brother, Andrew, in 2018 to create a thriving family business. Together, they have worked on residential gardens, listed buildings and gardens, flower shows and large estates with some exceeding 70 acres – many with historical significance.
Where to buy rhubarb crowns:
- Thompson & Morgan: the rhubarb goliath is an excellent choice
- Crocus: A tasty selection of rhubarb crowns
Tomatoes are prime planting fodder for February, no matter what size your garden is (yes, you can learn how to grow tomatoes in pots).
'Tomatoes can be sown towards the end of February by placing three or four seeds onto the surface of the compost in a small pot and covering with a little compost or vermiculite,' says Morris.
'They will need some warmth so if you can’t consistently keep them warm, cover with a clear plastic bag on a warm windowsill and uncover when the seedlings grow in a few weeks.'
Where to buy tomato seeds:
- Thompson & Morgan: an abundance of tomato seeds to choose from
- Crocus: a wide selection of tomato seeds
Salad lovers, you're in luck: lettuce is on our list of what to plant in February, too.
'A lot of people think you have to sow lettuce outdoors from late March to late July, but that's only if you want a summer crop,' says Christopher.
'If, instead, you'd like to start eating salads even earlier, you can sow lettuce seeds indoors from early February to give them a head start, before planting them out in early March. Just be sure to pop them under a cloche to keep them warm if you do.'
Where to buy lettuce seeds:
- Thompson & Morgan: plenty of different varieties of lettuce seed to choose from
- Crocus: go for something like the Lettuce 'Butterhead' seeds if you want a crop that thrives all year round
'Chillies do need to be sown in February as they need a long growing season, so if there is one seed to sow this month, then it's a chilli pepper,' says Morris.
'Sow into small modules of compost and cover with vermiculite, or a little compost. Place them on a bright, south facing windowsill as they need warmth to germinate.'
Where to buy chilli seeds:
- Thompson & Morgan: a wide selection of chilli seeds
- Crocus: lots of different chilli seeds, ranging from mild to sizzling
5. Broad beans
Another great vegetable to plant in February, 'broad beans can be sown directly outside' at this time of year.
However, Morris cautions that 'germination can be more reliable if sown undercover'.
'Even a cloche outside will do, otherwise try a warm windowsill or greenhouse,' he says. 'Sow them directly into pots of compost and water. Keep them warm and with plenty of light.'
Where to buy broad bean seeds:
- Crocus: a good selection of broad bean seeds
- Thompson & Morgan: many varieties of broad bean seeds
- Sarah Raven: plenty more broad bean seeds to choose from
Not sure why cucumbers are on our list of what to plant in February? Well, while they are usually sown in a propagator between March and April, Christopher says you can start them off indoors this month if your greenhouse is heated.
'Cucumbers are actually one of those crops that are better off being sown indoors, as they can be started off earlier to get an earlier crop – and successful germination is far more likely, too,' he adds.
Where to buy cucumber seeds:
- Thompson & Morgan: more than enough cucumber seeds to shake... well, shake a cucumber at
- Crocus: a good range of cucumber seeds
Anyone who knows how to grow garlic will tell you that that planting individual cloves in cool soil is key to their thriving – so, yes, February is a great time to get to work (although we wouldn't leave it too much later).
Where to buy garlic bulbs:
- Thompson & Morgan: the Grow Your Own Onion & Garlic Collection is ideal for beginners
- Crocus: try the French garlic collection for spring planting
Best flowers to grow in February
February is absolutely the time to start thinking about which flowers you want to see in your garden when the weather takes a turn for the warmer, especially as so many seeds and bulbs can be planted now.
1. Sweet peas
It's official: February is the perfect time to learn how to grow sweet peas from seed.
'Sweet peas are one of the most well known and loved garden annuals,' says Morris.
'Sowing into root modules will help the roots grow long and strong or use the biodegradable inside cardboard roll from toilet paper. The plants can then be planted out without any root disturbance when the weather is warmer. Pop them in the compost, cover over and lightly water.'
Where to buy sweet pea seeds:
- Amazon: try something like Suttons Sweet Pea Seeds
- Thompson & Morgan: pick from any of the sweet pea seeds on offer
These sun-loving plants boast a long flowering season, so adding them to your list of what to plant in February is an excellent way to ensure your garden is filled with blooms come summer.
'Really easy to sow and grow, the feathery foliage of cosmos looks great in any garden, especially cottage gardens and meadows,' says Morris.
'The flowers are always so bright and cheerful from deep pink to bright white, light yellow to striped pink and white. Cosmos seeds germinate very easily but they do need the light. Sow them onto your tray of compost and water lightly. Prick them out and pot on when they are big enough to handle.'
Where to buy cosmos seeds:
- Thompson & Morgan: a wide selection of cosmos seeds in all different colours
- Crocus: choose from cosmos seeds aplenty
Both tagetes patula (French marigolds) and calendula (pot marigolds) are on our list of what to grow in February.
'Once you have calendula you’ll always have it,' says Morris. 'The seeds are prolific but they do grow easily and fill spaces in the garden that might otherwise be bare. Growing well in sun or part shade the bright yellow and orange flowers are both medicinal and beneficial for pollinators.'
He adds that French marigolds are ideal for companion planting in your vegetable plot.
'Another easy to sow and grow annual to sow into trays or small pots, lightly cover with compost and gently water,' he says.
Where to buy marigold seeds:
- Thompson & Morgan: a great selection of marigold seeds to choose from
- Crocus: fill your garden with flame-coloured flowers thanks to this wide variety of marigold seeds
4. Hardy perennials
Oh yes, you'd best believe that some of our favourite hardy perennial plants can be planted in February.
You might like to consider:
- Hardy geraniums
- Japanese anemones
- Lily of the Valley
'Just give them a light watering in if needed,' says Morris, 'and a mulch of Monty Don's leaf mould or compost, too.'
5. Summer flowering bulbs
February is absolutely the time to fill your garden with summer bulbs, especially if you want them to bloom when the sun starts shining.
'Lily bulbs can be planted anytime up to spring so you still have time now to get these in the ground,' says Morris.
'These can be planted directly outside in well drained soil at a depth of about 15 - 20cm. Make sure they are in a sunny spot so you can enjoy the colourful blooms in summer.'
He adds that 'liatris are another colourful summer flowering bulb that can be planted outside up until spring'.
'These should be planted about 5cm deep in well drained soil in a sunny garden bed or pot.'
Christopher adds that begonias and agapanthus are also excellent summer bulbs to grow in February.
Best hedging and trees to plant in February
Whether you're looking for the best trees for small gardens, boosting your home's front kerb appeal, or swapping your fence for some amazing hedging plants, there are plenty of options on our list of what to plant in February.
If you're looking to create a romantic cottage garden, then you should absolutely consider planting some scented honeysuckle this February.
Why? Because, while these perfumed climbers can be planted at all year round, Christopher says your best bet is to plant if you 'plant deciduous ones in winter and evergreens in spring or autumn'.
'February is the sweet spot between winter and spring,' he adds.
Where to buy honeysuckle:
- Crocus: a good selection of deciduous and evergreen honeysuckle plants
- Thompson & Morgan: honeysuckle plants galore
2. Witch hazel
Another one on our list of what to grow in February, Christopher says that witch hazels are best planted between October and April.
'They're often overlooked, but witch hazel explode with delicate, fire-coloured flowers when the weather is at its coldest – so they're widely considered to be one of the best winter plants for pots,' he explains.
'You need to avoid planting if the ground is frozen or waterlogged, so you should be good to go from February. If the weather is dry, though, give them a careful water every so often to keep the ground moist.'
Where to buy witch hazel:
3. Bare-root hedging
If you're wondering which hedging plants are best to plant in February, you're in luck: the cost-effective and environmentally friendly bare-root hedging is ideal for growing at this time of year.
'The plants are dormant at this time of year and will establish well,' says Morris, noting that 'Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn), Carpinus betulus (Hornbeam) and Viburnum opulus (Guelder Rose) hedging can be planted, along with many others'.
'Bare roots arrive without any soil on the roots and are delivered directly from the field, so they can be planted immediately on arrival,' he adds.
'They may take some time to grow but they are a cheaper way to establish hedging and tend to thrive well into the future.'
4. Rootballed hedging plants
Another great example of what to grow in February, Morris notes that rootballed hedging plants will benefit from being planted at this time of year.
'Rootballed hedging can be planted up until May,' he says, explaining that 'these are larger than bare root plants and arrive with soil and a root system'.
'This is another great value option for a little more than bare roots. Rootball hedging to be planted now includes Taxus baccata (Yew), Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar) and Laurus nobilis (Bay Laurel).'
'No garden should be without a tree and no matter what size space you have, there is a tree for every garden,'' promises Morris – and, as luck would have it, many trees can be counted among the best things to plant in February.
'This time of year is perfect for planting out trees, as, just like with hedging, they will have time to settle in before the warmer summer months,' he says.
'Eucalyptus Gunnii has become much more popular over recent years due to the silvery, blue leaf tones being superb for adding to a home grown bouquet of cut flowers or using medicinally and as they are evergreen, Eucalyptus give interest all year round.'
Another tree synonymous with spring is the beautiful Magnolia tree which can be planted out now as well. adds Morris, 'along with Morus nigra and Morus alba (Mulberry) and Ficus carica 'Brown Turkey’ (Fig).'
What plants can I plant in February?
There are plenty of plants to grow in February, whether you prefer to spend your time working with hardy perennials, sowing summer flower bulbs, planting up fruit and vegetable seeds, or filling your garden with bare-root hedging plants and small trees.
Some of our favourites are: tomatoes, lettuce, witch hazel, broad beans, begonias, lily of the valley, honeysuckle, and marigolds.
Is February too early to plant outside?
While February is a great time to plant things like witch hazel, garlic and rhubarb crowns outdoors, you'll be better off starting some of your seeds indoors – including your cucumbers, tomatoes, salad leaves, and chilli peppers.
Now that you know what to plant in February, it's time to fight your way to the checkouts at your local garden centre and get your mitts on all the seeds and bulbs you can carry.
Trust us: the effort you put in now will be more than worth it when your garden is in full bloom...
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Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.
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