Garden Tasks by Month | February in Zone 5

 Dear Garden Diary, 

Here in zone 5, February is one of the coldest months of the year. And while I don't feel like doing much outdoors, there is work to do on days that are not brutally, bone-chillingly cold.

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What should I be doing in my garden in February?

A Garden Maintenance Checklist for Zone 5


February Garden Tasks!

☐ Cut Branches of Flowering Shrubs to Force Bloom Indoors
☐ Plant a terrarium
☐ Start Seeds Indoors
☐ Draw a Garden Plan
☐ Service Lawn Mower and other equipment
☐ Prune Roses
☐ Seek Inspiration


1. Cut Branches of Flowering Shrubs to Force Bloom Indoors

Once the buds have swelled on flowering trees and shrubs, cutting a few and bringing them indoors to 'force-bloom' is a way to introduce blooms in the house, well before the blooming period in the garden begins. Forsythia, crabapple and cherry are good candidates for force-blooming.

Kwanzaa cherry force bloom
Kwanzaa cherry branches that I force bloomed indoors.



2. Plant a Terrarium 
If you're itching to do some gardening, how about indoor gardening? Creating a miniature-indoor table top garden? Succulents like Echeveria, Sempervivums, Paddle plant (Kalanchoe), Zebra Haworthia, Sedums, String of Pearls, Agave, Jade plant (Crassula) are good candidates for low-maintenance terrariums. 

Maria Colletti's book, "Terrariums-Gardens Under Glass" is my inspiration and turn-to guide on designing, creating and planting modern indoor gardens.

If you already have indoor terrariums, this is also a good time to turn your attention to any that are looking tired. Remove dead plants/ leaves or ones that are stretching out toward the lights. Trim them and move them to sunny locations within the house. 

3. Start Seeds Indoors

Some slow to mature flowering plants to start from seeds around the end of February are:
  • Begonia
  • Bellflower
  • Cannas
  • Dianthus
  • Geranium
  • Hollyhock
  • Lady's Mantle
  • Petunias
  • Rosemary
  • Snapdragon
  • Sweet peas

Vegetable seeds to start indoors are:
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Head lettuce
  • Onions/ Alliums
  • Parsley
Canna seeds
Canna seeds  can be encouraged to germinate sooner by nicking their tough outer seed coat with a nail clipper or file and soaking them in water for a few days before planting.



4. Draw a Garden Plan
Envision the garden that you would like to have- changes you would like to make, plants and trees that you would like to introduce for four season interest. Sketch it out on graph paper so by the time the soil becomes workable in about 2 months you have a blue print to follow to make your dreams come true.

I draw inspiration from design posts from 'Your Garden Sanctuary' blog:

5. Service Lawn Mower and other equipment
Now is a good time to service the garden equipment and clean and sharpen tools so that they will be ready when the time comes.

6. Prune Roses
Late winter/ early spring is the time to prune Knock Out Roses. End of February/March, once new buds start swelling, is the time to cut knock out roses down to 12" from the ground. This will ensure that they fill out to 3ft-4ft. width and height in summer.

7. Seek Inspiration
Take walks in the neighborhood in February and see what looks interesting in the neighbors' gardens. Is anything blooming, do any evergreens, plants or shrubs look particularly stunning at this time of the year?

A few seasons ago, I saw a sea of yellow winter aconite blooming in late February. I didn't even realize flowers bloom this early! So, I sowed winter aconite bulbs in my garden in Fall and toward the end of February I look forward to them bursting into bloom. Winter aconite bulbs naturalize and return year after year, growing to be quite profuse.

Yellow winter aconite, zone 5

 Another winter bloomer that has captured my interest are Witch Hazel trees -Witch Hazel Tree for Flowers in February

Enjoy February, y'all!

Additional Readings:

Gardening Month by Month in Illinois by William Aldrich and Don Williamson


In case you missed it, also see:

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