What to prune in the garden in February - prep your plants and trees for Spring

It’s time to get pruning

Wisteria on cottage front door
(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

If you’re sensing the upcoming change in seasons and you’re itching to get back out into the garden, knowing what to prune in February can help you prepare for the upcoming months.

Yes, February is the perfect time to start planning your garden ideas and really taking stock of what you already have in your garden. And while some of your plant babies may be able to revive themselves after the harsh winter months, it’s always a good idea to add pruning to your list of jobs to do in the garden in February

Pruning these plants in February can give them the headstart they need to thrive throughout the spring and the summer. Plus, you can free up some space to add even more plants to your garden while you’re at it! 

What to prune in the garden in February 

‘Here in the UK, February is generally a good time to start pruning certain trees and plants as the winter season is finally starting to fade away (or at least should be), and plants need to be prepared for the summer blooming season,’ explains Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench. So, this is what you should prune in the garden this month.

Headshot of gardening expert Steve Chilton
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field and has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. Steve is a keen educator and loves to share this knowledge with others. He strives to simplify complex garden practices and encourage eco-friendly gardening.

1. Roses

Garden with a climbing rose plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

February may be associated with bouquets of Valentine’s Day roses, but what you might not realise is that February is also the month to give the roses in your garden some love, too.

February is the perfect time to start pruning roses of all kinds, as during this month they’ll resume growing after dormancy. But this should only be done if the temperatures are mild. If we have a particularly cold and frosty February, it might be best to wait until March for this gardening job.

If you know how to prune roses it will help you grow even bigger and brighter roses next year. Steve has shared some general tips to follow.

‘You should remove any damaged, diseased and dead branches of roses in February,’ he explains. ‘You should also cut lengthy stems back to an outward-facing bud in order to promote better blooming.’

2. Clematis

Clematis with a basket

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Training climbing plants can be a difficult job, but it pays off in the end. These plants are a great way to add height to your garden, cover ugly fencing, and encourage wildlife into your garden. Clematis is one of our favourite climbing plants, thanks to its stunning flowers.

If you have clematis in your garden, February may be the time to prune it - but you first need to understand what type of clematis you have. If your clematis flowers in the winter or the spring, you have a Group 1 clematis and you shouldn’t need to prune it at all.

If you have a Group 2 clematis (i.e. your clematis flowers in the early summer), you can go ahead and give it a light prune in February. The aim of this prune is to remove any dead or diseased branches. 

If you have a Group 3 clematis (late summer flowering), you should give this a hard prune in February. So, focus on pruning all of the branches down to around 30 inches from the base. 

3. Deciduous trees and shrubs

Makeover of a split level garden. L-shaped sitting area with cushions on wooden benches

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’re looking to turn your outside space into a woodland garden, deciduous trees and shrubs can help you bring your dreams to life. While you can often leave them to their own devices, it’s still a good idea to give them love once a year. 

Steve Swanborough, Gardening Expert at Henchman, explains, ‘For most deciduous trees and shrubs, winter is a season of dormancy, making it the ideal time to tackle pruning them. This means February is usually your last chance to give them a prune before active growth begins!’

‘Carrying out this task during dormancy minimises the amount of stress the tree or shrub is put under and allows it to redirect its energy toward healing and new growth without the demands of producing foliage.’

When you’re pruning your deciduous trees and shrubs, focus on removing any dead or diseased branches, as well as opening up the canopy to increase airflow and allow for more sunlight to pass through. 

4. Wisteria

Wisteria on cottage front door

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Romantic and fast-growing, wisteria is one of the Ideal Home team’s favourite plants. Often adorning the front of Bridgerton-esque period buildings, it’s a delicate yet overwhelming addition to any garden - which means it does require a lot of maintenance, especially when it comes to pruning.

In fact, if you don’t know how to prune wisteria, you might be interested to know that you should prune it twice a year. You should prune it once in the warmer months of July or August and then again in the colder months of January or February. 

But what’s with the extra winter prune? Well, pruning wisteria when it’s dormant actually encourages bigger blooms next year while also helping you control the growth of this ever-growing plant. 

5. Apple and pear trees

Apple tree in garden

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Having the space to plant a fruit tree in your garden is a real treat, which is why it’s important to care for them properly. Not only will this maintain the health of the tree itself, but it should also improve the fruit yield year-on-year. 

Not all fruit trees are pruned equally, though, and in February, you should focus your pruning efforts specifically on pruning apple trees and pear trees. 

Steve explains, ‘Now is a good time to prune the likes of apple and pear trees as they're still dormant. Pruning now helps remove branches and stems with ill-health and stimulate new growth.’


Can you prune trees in February UK?

Yes, you can! As most trees are still dormant in February (or just starting to come out of dormancy), this is a great time to prune trees, as you can maintain the health and well-being of the tree without harming any of the growth in the process.

In fact, pruning deciduous trees in February is the best and easiest time to prune them, as you can easily see what you’re doing without the leaves getting in the way. 

Do you prune roses in February?

February is generally considered to be the perfect time to prune roses. However, this all depends on the temperatures. If the weather is unseasonably cold, it’s best to wait until it warms up a bit before pruning your roses. However, if the weather is mild for February, you’re good to go. 

Happy pruning! 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.