Gardeners, rejoice! We’ve finally endured yet another harsh and boring winter. All that is left is one short homestretch called February, and luckily, it’s the shortest month of the year. And for those living in warmer climates (anywhere above USDA Plant Zone 7) and those who like giving flowers and food crops a headstart indoors, the dormant time of the year is already over. You’d be surprised at just how many plants you can get planted in February.
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zones Map
Flowers to start in February
If you have a warm windowsill or a heating pad and some grow lights, you can sow a wide range of annual flowers already in February. By the time summer comes, you’ll be all ready to fill your flower beds with cute seedlings. It’s also a great time for planting summer-blooming bulbs and tubers and sowing some cold-hardy annuals. Listed below are 11 types of flowers you can start as early as February:
Decorative poppies are striking ornamental plants that bloom in late spring. You can get them in traditional red, orange, and white these days. To get those bright spring blooms, you can start these flowers as early as February if you live in hardiness zones 7-10. Sow the seeds in a sunny spot in your garden (ideally at least 6 hours of sun) and water the seedlings around once per week to keep the soil evenly moist.
Can you ever have too many roses? Don’t think so, and February is a good time to start cultivating roses. Just make sure the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. Planting roses early allows them to develop a strong root system before summer. In warm climates, roses can be planted from October until April. When transplanting brand-new rose bushes, it’s important to get them into the soil as quickly as you can.
Cosmos flowers are a type of daisy that comes in a variety of pretty colors. These flowers look beautiful along paths or borders. Cosmos seeds are best germinated indoors and then planted in the garden in the spring. Their blooming season can be extended by this practice.
Sow the seeds in a seedling tray and let them germinate on a sunny windowsill. Keep the soil evenly moist, and the seedlings should emerge in 2-3 weeks. You can transplant the seedlings into bigger pots when they’re mature enough to handle.
If you live in a region that rarely gets frost in February (e.g. Florida), this is the time to plant cold-hardy annuals. It’s safer to choose flowers that can tolerate a light frost, such as pansies, dusty miller, dianthus, and calendula. Another cute frost-hardy annual to consider for warm regions is the sweet pea. These charming and fragrant flowers are a classic for homey-feeling gardens.
In case of low temperatures, wet the soil and cover the flowerbed with a thin sheet (not plastic) to seal warmth. Just make sure that the sheet doesn’t stick to the foliage – you can use small stakes to prevent this issue.
Those living in warmer areas of the country can also plant bulbs, such as agapanthus, in February. Plant each bulb 3-4 inches deep in well-drained soil. Agapanthus needs at least 6-8 hours of full sun to bloom.
That being said, many people who don’t live in a warm climate prefer growing agapanthus in containers. This allows them to transport the bulbs without digging them up in winter and start them early in February by moving the pot closer to the sun. Once frosts have passed, move the container outdoors, and enjoy it blooming earlier too.
As you probably know, it's usually good practice to plant spring-blooming bulbs, such as alliums in the fall. But what can you do if you find a beautiful cultivar in late winter? Wait for the frost to pass, and start your alliums right away. These easy-to-grow flowers can also be grown in containers (read above for a detailed how-to).
If you decide to plant alliums directly into garden soil, keep a spacing of 3-4 inches for smaller cultivars and 8 or more inches for larger bulbs.
Gladiolus flowers are also known as sword lilies. Their vibrant lily-like blooms grow in tall spear-shaped inflorescences. In warmer climates, their gladiolus bulbs, called corms, can be planted directly into the soil in February. Pre-wet the soil before planting the corms 3-4 inches deep. You'll see the earliest blooms in early summer. To extend their blooming season, prune and dispose of any faded flowers right away.
Liatris are resilient perennial flowers native to North America, so you know they’ll feel right at home in any garden in the US. These herbaceous plants are adorned by purple, pink, or white fuzzy flowers – the favorites of pollinators like bees and butterflies. Like many other plants on this list, Liatris plants grow out of bulbs and prefer well-drained soil.
Plant them when the frosts are over, and they should bloom for you in the summer. One last word of caution: if you have heavy soil, it’s probably a better idea to plant the bulbs in containers.
Late winter is a good time to start Begonia seeds indoors as well. These dainty flowers are a bit too fragile to grow outside so early, but they’re perfect for germinating inside. If it’s still very cold where you live, you can always use heating mats and cover seed starting trays with plastic wrap to facilitate growth. Seedlings are ready to be transplanted when it’s warm outdoors, and you can handle the young plants without harming them.
The variety of colors and shapes Dahlias come in is mind-boggling; it’s easy to be tempted to buy a few new tubers before the growing season. The great news is that you can start your Dahlias indoors in February by planting them in containers with moist potting mix. Then, you can let them sprout on a sunny windowsill. But before you do so, check the tubers for rotting or damage, and neatly trim any dead parts off with a sterile knife.
One more tip for propagating dahlias: you can take cuttings of any new sprouts and let them root in another pot. In 6-8 weeks, you’ll have a new fully rooted plant.
Lilies are well-known plants, so we don't need to convince you to try these plants. If you love them, you probably already have some lily bulbs waiting to be planted. And we've got some exciting news - that time is now. If you have well-drained soil in your garden, you can easily plant these beauties from October to April. Plant in a sunny spot in your yard or garden.
If the soil tends to be wet and heavy, it’s a smart idea to start lilies in containers and transplant established plants in the spring. Lilies are tall plants, so they have to be planted deeper than most bulbs – at least 6-8 inches deep into the soil.
Fruits and vegetables to plant in February
The journey to your summer harvest starts now. From cucumbers to cabbage, a wide range of seeds should be started indoors in late February, especially if you have a heated propagation station or a greenhouse. But even if you don’t, there are a variety of unexpected vegetables and even a type of fruit that is best planted in February. Here are nine of our favorite options from that list.
Can’t wait to have fresh homegrown spinach again? You don’t have to, as long as the soil in your garden is no longer frozen. The easiest way to start your spinach is in movable containers you can place on the balcony, near the garage, or close to the back door. If temperatures drop, you can move and shelter the spinach from the frost indoors.
Those who want to give their spinach an early start outdoors can benefit from growing spinach under a cloche (a covering that protects plants from the cold). Sow spinach seeds 1/2 inch deep and 12 inches apart. Plant more seeds every 3-4 weeks all spring and summer if you’d like to have a continuous supply.
Eggplants require a temperature of at least 77ºF to germinate, so we don’t recommend that you plant eggplant seeds outdoors right away. Instead, start the seeds inside in February by sowing them thinly in a seed starting tray and providing them with plenty of light (use a heating pad if you have one).
Once the seedlings have grown and the weather has warmed up, you can transplant them outdoors. Sowing eggplant seeds early will extend their growing season and yield.
Another delicious crop you can start right away is chilies. Since these spicy peppers have a pretty long growing season, giving them an early headstart is a clever solution. Sow chili seeds in a seedling tray, the same way we described above for eggplants.
In around 12 weeks, your seedlings will be ready for their permanent home in your garden. You can safely transplant chili seedlings a week or so after the last frost.
Radishes are among the fastest-growing vegetables on the planet – the entire process takes 3-4 weeks from start to finish. This means that if you plant your radish seeds now in February, you’ll be able to enjoy your first yield of home-grown radishes by the end of March.
Who can grow radishes in February? Anyone living in the South and West of the country, as radishes are considered a cold-weather vegetable. Sow radish seeds in continuous rows up to 1 inch deep and 1 foot apart.
Basil and Thyme
February is also the perfect time to propagate seeds for herbs. Basil and thyme are the easiest ones to start indoors and transplant outdoors after the last frost. Sow the seeds in a seedling tray and let them germinate on a sunny windowsill because seeds need a temperature of 60ºC or more to germinate. You should see the first sprouts within a week.
Growing asparagus is a long-term investment. That’s because asparagus plants can take 2-3 years to get established and start producing a decent quantity of vegetables. But once that threshold is crossed, the perennial plant will continue to produce plenty of asparagus spears year after year.
To have the most success with asparagus plants, we recommend that you propagate them indoors, and then move the plant outdoors after a month to six weeks. This way, you’re extending their growing season and allowing the plant to build a strong enough root system to overcome winter.
Beetroot is one of the most nourishing vegetables, and the added benefit of these vibrant root vegetables is that they are also ridiculously easy to grow. Generally speaking, beetroot seeds require a temperature of 45°F or higher, so we recommend that you use cloches to start beets in February. Otherwise, it's a better idea to wait until March.
Here’s one trick that can help seeds germinate faster – soak the seeds in room-temperature water overnight right before planting. Do this with beetroot seeds, and then plant them in a seed-starting tray. The young seedlings will appear in around 2 weeks.
Did you know that some strawberries can be grown from seeds too? Called Alpine strawberries, this variety of the beloved red fruit grows without runners. Instead, it spreads in clumps, so you’ll often see people cultivating Alpine strawberries in hanging baskets or towers.
These cold-hardy seeds benefit from winter sowing. You can start strawberries indoors on a windowsill, just like you would any other seeds. Don’t worry if it takes a little longer than usual. It's normal for Alpine strawberry seeds to take 2-4 weeks to germinate. Once the plants have established roots, you can safely plant them outside.
The last winter month is a busy time for gardeners and indoor plant lovers. You already know that February is a good time for germinating seeds and planting cold-hardy plants. In addition, here are a few key tasks to consider in February for your houseplants and outdoor garden:
1. Check your houseplants
The dry and cold winter air puts a lot of our tropical houseplants into a state of stress. When this happens, the plant starts emitting special hormones that signal to other plants that times are rough and its immune defenses are down.
Unfortunately, plants are not the only ones who are getting the message. Many pests, such as spider mites, mealybugs, and thrips can sense vulnerable plants too, and these are specifically the plants they will target. Hence, it’s a good idea to be on high alert and check your plants for pests every week. And don’t forget to look under the leaves too!
Late winter is an excellent time to prune rose bushes. It’s important to do this while the plant is still dormant but not particularly stressed, so wait for the strong frosts to pass before doing this.
When pruning, cut off any dead branches or leftover bloom stalks. Do not prune away more than a third of the pant every year to prevent excessive stress but still maintain a tidy shape. As for the climbers, you can leave them alone altogether. Just make sure that enough space is left for surrounding rose bushes; airflow is paramount for preventing disease.
4. Plan ahead
Even if you’re not currently doing much outdoor gardening, February is the perfect time to start planning out your garden, stocking up on seeds, and checking your gardening equipment. Get ready for the gardening season now, and you won’t have to stop mid-process in spring when you find out that you’re out of compost or your pruning shears got rusty. It’s also a good time for purchasing gardening supplies, as prices tend to be lower than they are during the growing season.