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Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips Regions

Use this month to check your houseplants: divide and re-pot any pot-bound plants. Prune judiciously to create a compact, attractive specimen.

Keep holiday poinsettias in a sunny, cool location with high humidity.

Closely inspect houseplants. Remove aphids from houseplants with a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water and add a drop of dishwashing detergent. Apply this to troubled plants with a soft brush.

Provide extra protection to houseplants on window sills if it is very cold. Place cardboard between the plants and the glass. Be sure the plants don't touch the windowpanes.

Check any bulbs and tubers you may have stored to determine if moisture is okay. Repack bulbs that seem too damp, discarding any moldy ones. If bulbs seem too dry, try moving them to another location.

Start a garden record book now, allowing space to record the dates of first and last frosts, seed-planting dates, transplanting, time of bloom, first fruit, fertilizing, problems with pests, and what worked and didn't work. Over a period of years, this will be an invaluable record.

Plan your garden and make a diagram drawn to scale before placing your spring order.

Organize, clean, oil, and sharpen garden tools. A splash of bright paint on tool handles will make them easier to spot out in the yard.

Remember to supply fresh water for the birds. Nuthatches, chickadees, cardinals, and juncos will enjoy any bread scraps you may have.

Gently shake or brush off snow-weighted branches that have no support. Heavy snow cover protects evergreen foliage from windburn, but too much weight will break branches.

Prune fruit trees now. The prunes can be gathered up into bundles to be used for kindling after they've dried.

Avoid walking over the same areas of your frozen lawn, or you may find bald spots in the spring.

Plant lettuce in flats this month and harvest before it's time to start some of the later seedlings. Artificial light may be required, but the air should not be too hot.

Start some annual flowers this month. Good picks include marigolds, sweet peas, stattice, impatiens, petunias, and snapdragons.

Choose some perennials to start now from seed. Delphinium, Shasta daisy, carnation, digitalis, and armeria are good choices.

Start geranium, begonia, vinca, and viola seeds now for spring and summer bloom. Begonia and vinca seeds are among the hardest to germinate, so don't be discouraged if your success rate is low or irregular.

Avoid heavy traffic on your lawn to avoid damage in the spring.

Group houseplants to increase humidity. Keep away from frosty windowsills.

Order seed catalogs early in the month. Research plants. Consider edible varieties that are drought-tolerant or disease-resistant.

Start ordering seeds. Do not wait until late in the winter, as varieties may sell out early.

Fertilize your houseplants with a water-soluble fertilizer and remember to water them. Be sure not to overwater, as that can lead to plant diseases.

Test your lawn and garden soil for its pH levels. If your soil is too acidic, you have time to fix it before the growing season arrives.

When buying seeds, look for disease-resistant varieties to help keep diseases out of your garden.

Remember to wash and sterilize seed-starting containers before planting seeds. Use 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.

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.

Keep your bird feeders clean! Every month, wash with soapy water and rinse thoroughly.

Prune fruit trees now. Trim any hedges that have been damaged from snow.

Avoid heavy traffic on your dormant lawn; dry grass is easily broken and damaged.

Remember to prune your houseplants regularly. Pinch back new growth to encourage bushier plants.

Group houseplants to increase humidity. Keep away from frosty windowsills.

Brush off heavy snow from your plants and trees.

Don't forget winter birds! Put out water, seeds, and suet.

Remove any branches that have been damaged by ice or snow.

Check your fruit trees for any evidence of rodents; use traps where necessary.

If you use salt on your walkways or driveways, spread it carefully to avoid damaging any of your plants. Sand or sawdust is also a good alternative to salt.

Check your garden equipment. Repair and sharpen tools. Service equipment.

Start ordering seeds. Do not wait until late in the winter, as varieties may sell out early.

Start preparing your garden soil for spring planting. You can also prepare new soil for flower, rose, or shrub beds. Mix in organic material to give plants a healthy start.

Control the weeds in your garden while they are young and tender, or before they sprout. Remove weeds before they seed, so you can avoid them in your garden.

If there is a possibility that the temperature will drop to the 20s, you should protect your plants from frost damage.

Test your lawn and garden soil for its pH levels. If your soil is too acidic, you have time to fix it before the growing season arrives.

Order seed catalogs. See our Mail Order List for ideas.

Begin planning this year’s garden. Consider companion planting—some plants grow better when planted near each other! Add plants that attract beneficial insects (such as sunflower, yarrow, dill, and coriander).

Before the spring, test your garden soil for its pH levels. Contract your local Cooperative Extension office for a soil kit.

Check your storage areas and get rid of old and unwanted pesticides. Visit for information on safe disposal.

Plant hardy, pest- and disease-resistant plants, especially if certain varieties have been troublesome in the past. For example, consider deer-resistant plants!

Prune trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. For trees and shrubs that bloom in summer, prune on the current year’s growth in winter. Note: For those that bloom in spring from buds on 1-year-old wood, prune just after flowers fade.

If your mulch was blown or washed away, reapply it around your plants.

Prevent lawn damage by limiting the traffic on your frozen lawn.

When temperatures are above freezing, water your plants deeply to prevent them from drying out.

Remove the snow from your shrubs to prevent them from breaking.

Remove leaves and other debris from your yard and around your plants (if there is not too much snow) to help reduce pests and diseases.

Check your houseplants: Look for any insects or diseases.

Test your garden soil for its pH levels. Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for a soil kit. Then, apply lime, sulfur, and fertilizer according to the soil-test results.

Spread manure or compost over the garden and plow it under if you did not do so in the fall.

Plant hardy vegetables and other cool-season crops, such as lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, spinach, peas, and cauliflower. Start seeds of warm-season vegetables indoors.

Make successive plantings of vegetables so that you have a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.

Get plant beds or seed boxes ready for growing plants such as tomato, pepper, and eggplant. Have beds ready for planting in early February.

Deadhead flowers to encourage new blooms.

Refrigerated bulbs should now be planted in prepared beds. Provide a layer of mulch for protection from cold temperatures.

Plant cool-season annuals in the garden beds, such as carnations, pansies, petunias, and snapdragons.

You can start seeds of warm-season flowers now to have transplants ready for spring.

Plant any trees and shrubs now. Water until established.

Fertilize established fruit trees. Plant dormant fruit trees.

Prune any damaged or dead branches from your trees and shrubs. Fertilize.

To control scale on fruit trees, apply horticultural oil while plants are dormant.

Ensure that your garden is watered if it is getting less than 1 inch of rain per week.

You can apply dormant oil spray to deciduous fruit trees. Prune dormant fruit trees if needed.

Use lukewarm water to wash any dust off of your houseplants; check them for any diseases or insects.

Every month, 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).

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