In the UK, February is a good month to sow seeds of hardy annuals such as cosmos, and greenhouse crops such as tomatoes. By sowing seeds early on in the year, you can enjoy flowers and vegetables for a larger part of the year – the growing season can then be extended by carrying out repeated sowings from March onwards.
If you have a heated propagator and grow lamp, you can start sowing chillies, aubergines and sweet peppers in February. Otherwise, sow seeds of hardier vegetables such as kale, and hardy annual flowers such as cosmos, in pots on a warm, sunny windowsill.
February is also a good time to plant summer-flowering bulbs in pots, most of which do best in free-draining soils. You can plant hardy perennials such as Japanese anemones and hardy geraniums, too. Most are dormant in February, with little or no foliage growing above the ground. However, by planting them in February you can get them off to a good start, as they will start growing as soon as temperatures increase.
Outside, in soil warmed beneath a cloche, you can sow broad beans and plant out young plants of hardy salads.
You will need:
It’s exciting to be able to start sowing a variety of different seeds at this time of year, and to give them the best chance you might find that it's worth investing in additional kit, which we've suggested below.
- Heated propagators: Available in a range of shapes and sizes, we’ve suggested the best heated propagators, which provide the perfect growing conditions for seedlings.
- Cold Frames: If you’re prepared to add a bit of extra insulation, a cold frame offers protection against wintry weather and can help hardy seeds get off to a flying start too – check out our pick of the best garden cold frames.
- Greenhouses: For those of you who have been toying with the idea of a greenhouse, we’ve got handy guides packed with information about how to choose the best greenhouse, as well as 12 of the most useful greenhouse accessories. No outside space? No problem – our round-up of the best indoor greenhouses is just for you.
Flowers to plant in February
Cosmos are easy flowers to grow and they look great in borders or meadows. The seeds need light to germinate, so sow on top of peat-free seed compost in a tray or plant pot placed indoors in a sunny spot such as a window sill, then prick out when large enough to handle.
Sweet peas are a stalwart of summer garden and they're easy to grow. Sow seeds individually into biodegradable pots or cardboard tubes, as they can be planted out in their containers to avoid root disturbance. Keep them in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame and harden off before planting out.
- Buy sweet pea seeds from Crocus, Thompson & Morgan, Sarah Raven and Primrose
- Buy biodegradable pots from Crocus and Sarah Raven
Salvias are great for providing structure and height in the garden, and many varieties can be grown from seed. Sow the seeds in February, scattering them on top of peat-free seed compost, and then cover the seeds with a fine layer of compost or vermiculite. Keep the pots in a light, warm spot indoors, ensuring the compost stays moist.
Lilies are fantastic summer border flowers, and work well in cut flower arrangements. Plant the bulbs any time from autumn to spring in a sunny spot, in rich, well-drained soil, around 15-20cm deep. If you have heavy, wet soil, it's best to plant them in pots, to plat out later.
Lots of lilies to plant? Check out our expert's guide to the best bulb planters, and here's the list of the top scorers:
- Buy Gardena's Bulb Planter from Tooled Up
- Buy Kent & Stowe's Long Handled Bulb Planter from Waitrose
- Buy Fiskars Xact Standing Planter from Amazon
Exotic pineapple lilies (Eucomis) are usually planted in spring, however, it's not too early to plant them in February, but you'll have more success if you plant them in pots, as open ground can be wet at this time of year, causing the bulbs to rot. Plant the bulbs 15cm deep in pots in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse, and plant out into the garden when all risk of frost has passed.
Liatris are tough, herbaceous perennials hailing from North America, beloved by bees and butterflies. Large, extravagant blooms come in shades of pink, purple and white. Plant the bulbs in light, free-draining soil, around 5cm deep. If you have heavy, or waterlogged soil, plant the bulbs in pots to plant out later.
There are many beautiful types of agapanthus to grow, and getting them started couldn't be easier. Containers are ideal for growing agapanthus, as you can bring them under cover in winter if you need to. Plant the bulbs 8-10cm deep, 10-15cm apart in good quality, well-drained compost. Once frosts have passed, move the pot outdoors to a warm, sunny position.
Galtonia, or summer hyacinths, are stately plants that produce tall spikes of nodding white flowers, which look particularly good when planted in large drifts. They do best in a sunny position in free-draining soil, where the bulbs should be planted 10cm deep, 10cm apart. In heavy soils, plant in pots.
Hardy geraniums, also known as cranesbills, are useful plants to have in the garden. The flowers will last for months, providing food for pollinators, and they're easy to grow. They can also be grown in sun or shade. These robust plants will adapt to suit most soils, except those that are waterlogged. For deep shade, why not try sowing seeds of herb robert?
Reliable and vigorous, Japanese anemones are well suited to borders, blending well with other plants and adding height and structure. Grow them in partial shade, in moist, well-drained soil.
Vegetables to plant in February
While very hardy, kale seeds need to be started off indoors during winter, as it's too cool outside for the seeds to germinate. Sow seeds indoors in modules or 7cm pots, with 2-3 seeds per module, then thin to leave the healthiest seedling. Keep on a sunny window sill.
The seeds of tomatoes need a minimum temperature of 10ºC to germinate, so are best started off in a heated propagator. However, if you wait until the end of the month, a sunny windowsill should be warm enough to encourage germination, just make sure the pots or trays are covered to stop temperatures falling dramatically at night.
- Buy tomato seeds from Thompson and Morgan, Crocus and Sarah Raven
- Buy Garland Fab 4 Electric Heated Propagator on Amazon
- Buy Garland Super7 Electric Heated Propagator on Amazon
- Buy Harrod Heated Windowsill Propagator with Capillary Mat and Tray at Harrod Horticultural
Chillies are a good crop to start in February, but only if you have a heated propagator as most varieties need a minimum temperature of 25ºC to germinate. Sow 2-3 seeds thinly per small individual pot using seed compost. Cover to own depth with vermiculite.
Harvest July to October.
Like chillies, aubergines need a minimum temperature of 25ºC to germinate, but the earlier you sow them, the longer their season of growth and the greater chance they have to fruit. Sow 2-3 seeds thinly per small individual pot using seed compost. Cover to own depth with vermiculite.
Basil needs a minimum temperature of 15ºC to germinate, so it's best sown in a heated propagator, but you may have success on a sunny window sill from the end of the month. Sow basil thinly on the surface of pots or trays of seed compost, and cover with vermiculite.
Sow broad beans in February for a head start on spring sowings. Sow direct outdoors if conditions are mild or if you have pre-warmed the soil using cloches or fleece. In cold conditions, sow in multi-celled trays in a greenhouse or cold frame, and then plant the young plants out when temperatures have increased.
This special edition Year Planner 2023 contains advice for every month of the year, with tips for delicious harvests, plus, a sowing calendar is included for the best results all year round. Only £7.99.