Even in February, on mild days, you can make as start in the garden and cut back perennials. In fact, it’s an ideal time because the garden is waking up, and as the new growth comes through it can be hard to cut back all the old growth, without damaging the new.
The image left is a Sedum, and the new growth is at the base. Before the new growth gets much taller is the time to take the secateurs to it and cut off the old growth.
This is true of many garden perennials such as Nepeta, Oregano, Epimediums, Alchemilla mollis, Crocosmia, Geranium, any of the perennials which have spent top growth which is dead and where there are now new shoots emerging at the base.
Cutting back is different to pruning. When you cut back you remove all of last year’s growth whereas pruning is a means to shape a plant or shrub to produce the desired growth. February is a big pruning month. During February or early March it is time to prune Groups 2 & 3 Clematis, Roses and Wisteria.
Summer flowering shrubs can be cut back and pruned in February and March. It is imporant to be sure the shrub is summer flowering. Spring flowering shrubs and climbers make flowers on last years wood, so if you prune ahead of flowering you will cut off the branches where the flowers would have formed. The result will be no flowers.