Out with the old, in with the new. Take a little time this month to go through your seed stash and make a list of new varieties you’d like to try. Gather supplies for starting your seeds, too, such as sterile starting mix, peat pots or other containers, and markers. If you don’t have a warm spot in your home to start the seeds, consider a seed propagating/seedling heat mat. Used under a tray of seedlings, the warmth can help the seeds propagate faster and thrive, as compared to seeds started without additional heat. Read the back of your seed packages to know when to start your seeds indoors. You don’t want them to sprout too early, since they can’t grow indoors indefinitely. They should be transplanted outside only after all danger of frost has passed.
- As the natural light levels decrease, you may need to move houseplants that are actively growing for better light exposure. Clean your windows to get as much light as possible, or set up a grow light stand.
- Keep an eye out for houseplant pests like spider mites, scale insects, or mealy bugs. Sometimes a shower in the kitchen sink will knock them off. If pests persist, try swabbing the infected leaves with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol, or use an insecticidal soap.
- Sort through stored tubers, roots and bulbs of cannas, gladiolas, and begonias. Dispose of any that have shriveled or decayed. If dahlia tubers look shriveled, lightly spray the material they are packed in with tepid water.
- Know when to say goodbye to an indoor plant. Plants have life spans, and some are longer than others. If a plant looks scraggly, it may be time to replace it or take cuttings. Dip the ends of cuttings in rooting hormone to give them a jump start.
- Rosemary can be tricky to grow in an indoor herb planter, but having this fragrant herb available for recipes is worth the effort. Give your plant a bright, cool spot in your home. Avoid overwatering, but don’t let the soil dry out either. Wait until spring to begin fertilizing and transplant it into the garden after the weather warms up.
- Clean bird feeders at least once a month by dumping out old, uneaten seeds, scrubbing with soapy water, and rinsing well. Soak briefly (for 2-3 minutes) in a solution of one part household bleach to 9 parts water. Rinse and allow to dry thoroughly before refilling.
- The next time you select landscape plants, consider those that add winter color and interest, such as hollies and evergreens. Evergreens provide great contrast to leafless deciduous plants and also offer shelter for wildlife during the cold season.
- If there isn’t a lot of snow, check plants to be sure they haven’t heaved, or been pushed up out of the ground by alternating freeze and thaw cycles. Heavy snow cover is a good mulch, so if the snow is deep, they’ll probably be fine. If you find any plants have heaved up, gently step around them and then re-cover with mulch.