While the weather may still be cold and frosty, depending on where you live, there are plenty of things you can plant in February to get your hands in the dirt and get started on your spring garden.
February is a month that I usually look forward to. It’s short, to be sure, but it also brings the promise of spring just on the horizon. The days are finally beginning to feel a little longer and spring is just weeks away.
While we live in a northern zone that is too cold to do much outdoor planting, there are several seeds we can start indoors to get a jump start on the coming season. If you live in a warmer region, your list could be even longer and you’d add a few things that we typically don’t start until March here.
Regardless of what zone you’re in, though, these plants can be started in virtually any zone during February.
Flower Seeds to Start in February
Flowers used to be something that wasn’t really on my gardening radar. I love them, they’re beautiful, but until I took into consideration attracting pollinators and companion planting, they were just something pretty to look at.
Now, I put more focus on the flowers that go into our garden and start several in both January and February from seed.
Cosmos. Cosmos are incredibly easy to grow from seed. They do take a while to germinate, though, anywhere between 1 and 3 weeks. Once they’ve sprouted, it will be another couple of months before they begin to flower.
You can start seeds in seed trays in late February. Once they’re 3 to 4 inches tall, move them into individual 5″ pots. They can be moved outside once the danger of frost has passed.
Once they begin to bloom, beautiful cosmos will continue blooming until the first fall frost, so it’s well worth it to get them started. They can be grown in pots, or beds and are not particularly finicky about soil type.
Begonia. Begonias are a little more difficult to grow from seed than cosmos. Making sure conditions are just right is important, or they tend to die off. The nice thing about these beautiful flowers is they can even be grown in the shady parts of the garden to bring a little bit of life.
The seeds are quite small, so be sure to take care when opening the package. Surface sow them into damp seed starting soil and be sure to give them some light as this aids in germination. Germination can take anywhere from 15 to 60 days and the soil needs to be warm, so using a heat mat helps.
Once they’ve gotten a few sets of true leaves, transplant them into larger pots. Be sure to harden off the plants for about a week before transplanting into their final containers after the threat of frost has passed.
Impatiens. Slightly difficult, but not impossible, impatiens require a little finesse to grow from seed. But, these pretty little flowers are worth the patience and finesse to grow.
While the seeds are larger than those of begonias, they’re still on the small side. They prefer warm soil conditions, so watering with hot water and allowing the starting mix to cool down before planting works well. Then, utilize a heat mat to be sure the temperature stays around 75°F.
Surface sow the seeds and lightly press them into the mixture. Again, these seeds require light to germinate, so putting them under grow lights from the beginning will help. Seeds should sprout within 5-7 days.
Zinnia. Zinnia seeds look like pointy little arrowheads and don’t require a lot of prep to plant. While you can sow the seeds outdoors, starting them indoors gives you a headstart on this half-hardy annual.
These beautiful, hardworking flowers take about 2 months to flower, so starting them inside early can be beneficial, especially for those of us in northern zones. While zinnias don’t require light to germinate, they do like heat, so utilizing a heat mat, again, can be beneficial.
Sow seeds around 1/4″ deep, two to each planting cell. They should germinate within in about 4-8 days, assuming they have nice, warm soil around 70°F to 75°F.
Marigold. This past year, I lined our garden walkway with marigolds and it was so pretty. These multipurpose, beautiful flowers are easy to grow from seed and will bloom all summer long, adding beautiful color to your garden.
Like zinnias, it only takes a couple of months for marigolds to bloom, but since they are heat-loving flower, starting them indoors early is beneficial. However, unlike zinnias, marigolds do require light to germinate, so they should only be surface sown.
Surface sow the seeds and utilize a heat mat to keep the soil warm. Mist it with a water bottle and make sure to put the seed tray underneath grow lights. They should sprout anywhere between 4 and 14 days.
Herb Seeds to Start in February
Herbs are a great addition to any garden and several are good candidates for indoor seed starting. These are my favorite herbs to get a head start on in February.
Basil. Of all the mint family herbs, basil is actually the easiest to grow. An excellent candidate for an indoor herb garden, it’s easy to get this heat-loving herb started indoors for a head start.
Basil is a very low-maintenance plant. Sow the seeds and cover with a very thin layer of seed starting mixture. The seeds should sprout within a week to ten days. Once it does, remove the humidity dome and thin the seedlings once they get two sets of true leaves.
The seeds will require a heat mat or similar to germinate. It should be ready to harvest about a month after germination, so you can start pinching off some leaves as needed before you transplant this herb outdoors.
Lemon Balm. Lemon balm is one of my favorite herbs to grow. It’s fairly easy to grow from seed, but the seeds can take anywhere from 10 to 20 days to germinate, so getting a head start is beneficial.
Since this is a perennial, I actually only grew it from seed once, and while it dies back in our cold winters, it does come back every single year, without fail. It’s not finicky about soil and can be grown in full sun to partial shade.
Lemon balm will also require a heat mat or similar to make sure the soil is warm enough. Surface sow the seeds and cover with a thin layer of starting mix. Usually it will germinate within a week or two, but sometimes it takes longer, so be patient.
Sage. Sage is another easy to grow from seed herb, but is slow to grow, so you have to practice patience.
Another seed that requires light to germinate, you’ll want to surface sow the seeds and they will sprout within 10 to 21 days. While you can start the seeds in plant cells, they do best when started in individual 3″ peat pots instead.
Sage can be transplanted outdoors after the threat of frost has passed. It can be trimmed back in the spring, just as new leaves emerge, to encourage more growth.
Mint. Mint is the perfect beginner herb. It’s easy to grow, very forgiving, and quite prolific. In fact, it’s so prolific you’ll likely want to keep your mint in an individual pot, or it is very likely it will take over your garden in no time.
This fragrant herb is easy to grow from seed, but again it does require light to germinate, so be sure to surface sow. It also needs light and heat, so placing the seedling tray under the grow lights and keeping heat underneath will help aid in germination.
It will take around one to two weeks for seeds to germinate. Again, placing the plants in individual pots can help prevent spreading. You can either plant the seeds directly in the intended pot or transplant the plants once they’re big enough and harden off outside.
Chamomile. If growing Roman chamomile, it is a perennial and will return year after year whereas German chamomile is an annual that will need seeds started every year. I grow Roman chamomile and absolutely love it, it’s quite prolific, but both varieties have their place.
Chamomile is quite easy to grow from seed and will produce fragrant flowers all summer long. A sun-loving plant you’ll want to surface sow the seeds as they will require light to germinate. You should see germination within 10 to 14 days.
Transplant seedlings outdoors after they’re properly hardened off once the threat of frost has passed.
Vegetable Seeds to Start in February
Vegetables… the moment all of us home gardeners have been waiting for. While there aren’t a ton of things to start from seed quite this early in most zones, there are a few.
Sow the seeds 1/4″ to 1/2″ deep and use a heat mat as the seeds will germinate best in warm soil. To prevent leggy seedlings, you will want to make sure you have grow lights available once the seeds have sprouted.
Thin plants once 3-4 leaves have appeared. Cabbage likes cool weather, so it can be transplanted outside about a month before the last frost, after it is properly hardened off.
Peppers. Peppers are one of the first vegetables I start from seed because they can take a very long time to germinate and grow. I almost always start them in mid-February because any later and I don’t have peppers until late August or early September and their season ends up very short in our zone.
All pepper varieties love it hot. Soil temperatures of 80°F to 90°F are required for germination, making a heat mat almost essential for proper germination. Sow them only 1/4″ deep and utilize a humidity dome to keep the environment warm and moist for germinatin.
While most seeds should germinate within 10 days in ideal conditions, hotter varieties, colder conditions, or pepper seeds that are over a year or two old can take up to a month. If you don’t see germination, be patient, you likely will.
Eggplant. Eggplant is a fantastic addition to the backyard garden. While they can be a little finicky, once they have a good start they’re pretty easy to grow to harvest.
Eggplant seeds actually do best if you soak them the night before, so place them in a bowl of warm water or in a damp, warm paper towel overnight. Then, plant them in moist seed starting mix about 1/4″ deep.
It will take a week or two for seeds to germinate, try to keep the soil temperature around 70°F or higher. Once they reach about 3″ in height, pot them up. Transplant outdoors about two weeks after the last frost.
Leek. Early leek varieties can be started in February, while others need to be started in mid-spring. That said, if you’re planting an early variety, now is the time to get it started.
Plant the seeds, two to a cell, about 1/4″ deep in moist seed starting medium. It will take around 10 to 14 days for seeds to germinate. Be sure to keep the seeds under the grow light once you see germination. You can separate them once they begin to grow into individual pots.
They can be transplanted outdoors once they’re 6 to 8 inches tall and the daytime temperatures are at least 45°F regularly. Be sure to properly acclimate them to outdoor temperatures before transplanting.
Celery. Celery is a versatile, nutrient-dense vegetable that is perfect for the backyard garden. While it is very easy to grow, it does have some very specific needs in order to grow successfully. As long as you keep it adequately watered, it will be a delicious, crunchy addition, though.
A slow grower, it is best to start the seeds indoors in late winter for most of us. The seeds also require light to germinate, much like most of our herb friends, so only surface sow the tiny seeds onto moist seed starting mix.
The seeds should begin germinating in about 5-7 days. Once it does, keep that soil moist, but not drenched. The seedlings can be transplanted once the daytime temperature reaches 50°F or more and the nighttime temps don’t dip below 40°F. It will take anywhere between three and four months to grow to maturity.
Other February Gardening Tasks
Depending on the year and where you live, February can be a great time to get a few outdoor gardening tasks completed.
If you find it particularly warm, you can cut down any perennials that were left to overwinter.
It’s a great time to transplant deciduous trees and other plants while they’re dormant.
Winter pruning of autumn raspberry bushes can happen in February as well.
Test seeds for germination that are old or the age is unknown to make sure they will germinate. If they don’t, you can take inventory and buy seeds.
February is also a good time to plant bare-root trees, assuming the ground isn’t frozen. If it is, this will have to hold off until March.