Re-invigorate your houseplants by removing the top 1/4 inch of soil and top-dressing with fresh potting soil.
Spider mites are apt to thrive in warm, dry houses. Frequent misting under the leaves of houseplants will discourage them. A solution of 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup buttermilk, and a gallon of cool water, applied in a mist, is a good organic deterrent.
Houseplants will be sensitive to overfeeding at this time of year. Provide lots of sunlight, fresh air, and frequent bathing for plants that seem a little worse for the winter.
Forced paper-white narcissus will bloom more quickly now than earlier in the season.
Shop early for seeds from catalogs and garden stores. The early shopper gets the best choice of seed varieties.
Plan some window boxes. Good choices for plants: zinnias, nasturtiums, petunias, geraniums, begonia. Edible choices: cherry tomatoes, lettuce, kale, and herbs.
Test the germination of last year's surplus seeds before ordering new ones. Place ten seeds between damp paper towels. Keep them consistently damp and in a dark place. Check germination rates to determine how many seeds to use for your real planting.
Take an inventory of your preserved foods--in the freezer, in cans, or the root cellars. This should help you decide your seed order for the upcoming season.
Spread wood ashes around lilacs to benefit growth and bloom in the spring.
Test buds of peaches and other sensitive fruits for freeze damage. Bring in a few twigs cut from the trees and place them in a vase of water. If the twigs bloom in a week or two, expect blossoms in the spring and a crop next fall.
Set up birch branches that may have been bent by snow or ice, as soon as possible. If neglected, the branches will permanently adopt their leaning position.
Cut poles for peas, beans, and other climbers now. Peel off the bark and set them in a dry area until they are needed.
Keep this in mind while pruning: Fruit usually grows on the horizontal branches, rather than the vertical ones. Vertical branches may be trained to become horizontal by weighting them down for a few weeks. This may also be done in the summer.
A barrel or other covering placed over rhubarb plants will hasten the spring crop.
Start onions from seed now. They'll be ready for setting out in April. Onions from seed are generally firmer and longer lasting than from sets.
Start parsley indoors now. You may think you have successfully wintered over the plant, but it is a biennial and will soon go to seed.
Finish ordering vegetable seeds. Share seed orders with a friend.
Look for good locations to plant flowers, and shrubs or to place container flowers in your yard.
Continue providing fresh water and food for birds and wildlife.
Avoid walking on the lawn during a winter thaw.
Order perennial plants and bulbs now.
If you are storing any bulbs for summer planting, check them to make sure they are not rotting or damaged. Throw away any bad bulbs.
Wash and sterilize seed-starting containers in 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.
Grow some herbs in containers, such as fresh parsley.
Repot rootbound houseplants.
Finalize your garden plans on paper.
If you want to give your vegetables an early start, use season-extending devices such as cold frames or hot beds.
Begin pruning fruit trees, grapes, and blueberries.
Fertilize established fruit trees after the last frost.
Apply fertilizer to houseplants as soon as they begin to show signs of growth.
Most bare-rooted trees and shrubs as well as bare-rooted deciduous fruit trees can be planted now.
Do not prune spring-flowering plants until after they bloom. When pruning, never remove more than 1/4 of the total plant.
Finish pruning your roses. Begin fertilizing.
You can begin planting perennial garden crops, such as blueberries, blackberries, and grapes.
Continue to sow cool-season vegetable seeds, such as beets, carrots, cabbage, peas, and potatoes. Continue to transplant artichokes, asparagus, chard, lettuce, and onions.
Finish pruning fruit trees and grapes this month; fertilize deciduous fruit trees with nitrogen when they leaf out; prune frost-sensitive citrus after spring growth.
Many insects can be found in the garden during the winter months. To help control them, spray your plants with a dormant horticulture oil.
Control the weeds in your garden while they are young and tender, or before they sprout. Remove weeds before they seed.
Water lawns and gardens deeply once to twice a week, depending on the amount of rain. Do not overwater.
Watch out for frost damage. Protect trees and plants if temperatures drop to the 20s for more than an hour.
You can start some perennials now, including delphinium, carnation, and armeria.
Start some annuals, especially those that have slow growth, including marigolds, impatiens, pansies, snapdragons, and petunias.
Don't forget winter birds! Put out water, seeds, and suet.
Remember to prune your houseplants regularly. Pinch back new growth to encourage bushier plants.
Rotate houseplants so they get even sun and growth.
Force a winter bouquet from cut branches of forsythia, pussy willow, deutzia, wisteria, lilac, apple, peach, or pear. Bruise the cut ends and set them in water. Spray the branches frequently. Keep them in a cool place until they bloom, then move to a warmer area for display.
Make sure your lawn mower is tuned up. Sharpen and sterilize your garden tools.
Make a cold frame or hot bed to start your vegetable and flower plants early.
Prune established fruit trees and berries.
Spray lime sulfur on fruit and deciduous trees and shrubs.
Remove any diseased or damaged branches from trees and shrubs.
Clean up any weeds before they go to seed or develop roots. Weed now to reduce work later!
You can start seeds indoors now, such as brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and most herbs; remember to keep them in a warm place, but avoid keeping them in direct sunlight.
Add manure, compost, or fertilizer to your rhubarb bed.
Do you get moles? Set out humane traps.
Repot houseplants; be sure to provide them with plenty of sunlight and fresh air.
Consider investing in a soil thermometer so that you know when the soil is warm enough for seeds to germinate outdoors.
As soon as the soil is workable, add in manure or compost to prepare your garden for planting.
Temperatures can drop to freezing this month; annuals that can take the chill include pansies, viola, and dianthus.
Clean your annual and perennial flower beds. Add compost to the soil and add more mulch to the beds.
Bulbs can still be planted. Water well and apply mulch for protection. Try dahlias!
Continue to deadhead flowers, such as pansies.
Put down mulch across all garden beds to control for weeds.
Divide and replant crowded perennials after they emerge.
Fertilize spring-blooming bulbs.
Finish planting shrubs and trees. Fertilize.
If not done in January, fertilize established fruit trees now.
Prune dormant trees. Avoid pruning citrus until the spring.
Prune shrubs now; wait to prune spring-flowering shrubs until after they bloom.
Fertilize established fruit trees. Continue planting dormant fruit trees.
Plant more vegetables, such as lettuce, cabbage, collards, onion sets, brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, spinach, kale, mustard greens, radishes, turnips, peas, and beets.
Plant Irish potatoes now! Plant 3 inches deep.
Replenish mulch on strawberries.
Start your indoor seed boxes of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and cauliflower indoors.
Prune roses to remove damaged canes. Then fertilize and apply mulch for protection.
Divide and transplant perennial herbs.
Seed herbs for April planting.
You can fertilize your houseplants with a water-soluble fertilizer when they show new growth.
After temperatures rise to 65 degrees F for 4 to 5 days, apply a pre-emergent weed killer to prevent warm-season weeds.
Regularly mow your lawn at recommended heights (St. Augustine and Bahia: 3 to 4 inches; Centipede: 1.5 to 2 inches; Dwarf St. Augustine: 2.5 inches).