February Planting and Pruning Tips
It’s not too late to plant bare-root trees and shrubs this month. The advantage is they are invariably cheaper than container grown varieties and are often better quality with a wide range of choice. The only disadvantage is you will have to plant them immediately they arrive, so make sure you have prepared the soil well before planting.
If I had to choose just one tree to plant at this time of year, it would be Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’. It is often overlooked for the more showy Japanese ornamental cherries but really should be in all but the smallest garden because it flowers delicately from November until March, has bronze-green spring foliage, reliable orange and yellow autumn leaf colour and is very tolerant of aspect and soil conditions.
This is a good month for pruning woody plants. Hardy shrubs that flower on new wood later in the summer, for example the butterfly bush, Buddlejia davidii, can be cut right down hard to the base. It’s amazing just how well shrubs respond to this, putting on rapid growth over the spring and summer months to flower later on in the year. Just ensure that you leave a few shoots at the base to form the basic structure of the plant. Use the left over twiggy prunings as supports for plants such as Delphiniums in March.
Wisterias usually flower more freely and regularly if pruned twice a year, once in August and again in February. Simply cut back the growth to two or three buds to ensure that the flowers will not be obscured by leaves. The idea is to have a skeleton frame of well- spaced branches. On an overgrown Wisteria, this may require some time and patience but it is well worth the effort to enjoy the spectacle of flowers later in the year.