In the gray, cold days of late winter, February flowers can fill gardeners' minds with visions of summer. Familiar shrubs like forsythia aren't the only flowers that bloom in February, according to the University of Oregon Extension Service's horticulturist Linda McMahon. Witch hazel and American hornbeam trees, Carolina jessamine vines, and winter heath are prolific February bloomers. Even confined gardens can announce winter's end with some smaller February flowers.
Snow Crocus "Advance"
Few February flowers evoke visions of sunny days better than snow Crocus (Crocus chrysanthus) "Advance." Hardy to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, Advance stands just 3 to 6 inches high and wide. In groups, however, its purple-tinged, lemon-colored blooms light the February landscape. Cup-shaped flowers rise above grass-like foliage to open in the morning and close at dusk. They remain closed in cloudy weather.
Use Advance massed beneath trees or in rock gardens and along walkways, suggests the Missouri Botanical Garden. Plant bulbs in the fall, 2- to 3-inches deep and 3- to 4-inches apart. They perform best in averagely moist, well-drained locations with full sun or partial shade.
Hellebore "Red Mountain"
Hellebore (Hellebore x hybridus ) "Red Mountain" stands 12 to 18 inches high and wide. Withstanding temperatures to minus 30 degrees, it has a bushy habit and glossy, lobed dark green leaves. Between February and April, Red Mountain has nodding clusters of dark rose-purple, cup-like flowers. Their petals make a vibrant contrast against vivid yellow, raised centers.
Place this evergreen perennial away from winter wind in a conspicuous location, suggests the Missouri Botanical Garden. Give it partial to full shade and well-drained, humus-rich alkaline---pH above 7.2---soil. Watch for leaf spot and crown rot. Note that hellebore's roots, stems and foliage are poisonous.
Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) "Viridi-apice" often blooms through snow.Tolerating a temperature of minus 40 degrees, it stands 6- to 9-inches high and up to 6 inches wide. The perennial bulbs produce two or three slender, 4-inch grass-like leaves and a single leafless stem. Each stem has one bell-shaped, white bloom with six green-blotched tepals.
Mass Viridi-apice beneath deciduous trees or along woodland edges, or use it along border fronts and paths. It tolerates full sun and---for best performance---partial shade. Provide moist, humus-rich soil. Plants are most appealing in groups of 25 or more, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Place bulbs 2- to 3-inches deep and apart. Wait for foliage to yellow before removal after the plants bloom.