- Prune, repot and clean houseplants as needed.
- Fertilize houseplants as new growth appears. Follow label directions.
- If not done already, sketch garden plans, including what to grow, spacing, arrangement and number of plants needed.
- Order seeds and plants as early as soon as possible.
Cyclamen. (C) iStockphoto
- Place Easter lily, florist azalea, cyclamen and other seasonal flowering plants in bright, indirect sunlight. Keep soil moist.
- Pot up summer flowering bulbs to be transplanted outdoors later, including tuberous begonias, caladiums and cannas.
- Start seeds of warm-season plants, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, marigolds, zinnias and petunias for planting outdoors in mid-May.
Cyclamen. (C) iStockphoto
- Fertilize woody plants before new growth begins.
- Complete pruning to remove dead and injured branches from trees and shrubs. Prune spring flowering shrubs, such as forsythia or lilacs, within a month after blooming.
- Mow grass as needed to 3 1/2- to 4-inches tall.
- Remove winter-damaged ground covers with trimmers or shears.
- Divide or transplant hardy perennials.
- Allow foliage of spring-flowering bulbs to ripen and yellow or brown before cutting back. Leaves make the food reserves stored in the bulbs that bring next year’s flowers. Divide or transplant spring-flowering bulbs after they’ve finished blooming. Mark empty spaces in the landscape to show where to plant spring-flowering bulbs next fall.
- Harden off transplants started indoors earlier by gradually exposing young plants to outdoor conditions of wind, sunlight and lower moisture.
- Remove winter covering from roses. Keep mulch nearby to use on plants in case of late freezes. Prune and fertilize as needed.
Vegetables and Fruits
- Sow seeds for cool-season crops, including peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips and Swiss chard, directly in the garden as soon as soil can be worked. Soil should crumble instead of forming a ball when squeezed.
Mesclun seedlings can be transplanted outdoors anytime or the seeds can be sown directly in the garden. Photo courtesy National Garden Bureau
- Plant seedlings of cool-season crops, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and onions.
- Plant asparagus and rhubarb crowns. (Do not harvest until three years after planting.)
- Plant certified, disease-free potato sections or seed tubers.
- Plant strawberries, raspberries and other small fruit.
- Remove winter mulch from strawberries, but keep it handy in case late frosts threaten and to keep weeds down.
- Prune grape vines to remove dead or weakened limbs. Repair trellises as needed.
- Apply a pre-bloom, multipurpose orchard spray to fruit trees.
- Keep houseplants close to bright windows. Check soil for dryness before watering.
- Examine produce, tender flower bulbs and roots stored for the winter for rot, shriveling or excess moisture. Remove and discard damaged material.
- Sketch garden plans, including what to grow, spacing, arrangement and number of plants needed.
- Order seeds and plants as early as possible for best selection.
- Test left over garden seed for germination. Place 10 seeds between moist paper toweling, or cover with a thin layer of soil. Keep seeds warm and moist. If fewer than six seeds germinate, buy fresh seed.
- Wash pots and trays that will be used for seed sowing and transplants.
- Start seeds for cool-season vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage, five to seven weeks before transplanting outdoors.
- Start seeds for impatiens, begonia, geranium and other slow growing annuals.
- Prune landscape plants except early spring bloomers, which should be pruned within a month after the have finished blooming. Birches, maples, dogwoods and other heavy sap bleeders can be pruned in early summer.
- Repair or build trellis for roses, grapes and other vining plants as needed.
- Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs as they break ground.
- Prepare lawn and garden equipment for the upcoming growing season. Sharpen blades and have equipment serviced before the spring rush.
Vegetables and Fruits
Photo courtesy www.bulb.com
The Hoosier Gardener talks about planting spring-blooming bulbs Sept. 16 on Indianapolis’s Fox 59. Here are tips for selecting, planting and maintaining spring-blooming bulbs.
- Tulips, daffodils and crocus are early, mid-season or late bloomers. For a long flowering period, plant bulbs that bloom at different times.
Rain lilies, which open pink then fade as they age, like to be crowded in the pot. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
There’s something very special about the charming little rain lily (Zephyranthes grandiflora), which makes it a pass-along, or heirloom, in many families. In the recent Old House Gardens Heirloom Bulbs catalog, owner Scott Kunst tells of a Wisconsin family who has had them for more than 100 years
It’s not too late to pick up a few buds for your best gal or guy to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Roses, tulips or any bouquet of cut flowers will do the job. And, with today’s tight budgets, consider buying just a few flowers instead of dozens.
“Don’t spoil things by saying, ‘I couldn’t afford a dozen,’ ” says Sally Ferguson, who represents the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center in Danby, Vt. “One perfect flower is symbolic. It shows you’re deep, get it? If one perfect flower’s symbolic, two are mythic!”
Two bulbs set the scene during the holidays – amaryllis, with its large trumpet like flowers atop a sturdy stalk, and paperwhites, a very fragrant daffodil that perfumes the room.
Center stage — Amaryllis growth stages from bulb to flower. (Photos courtesy Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center)
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) and paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) are readily available at garden centers and online and mail order merchants. Buy the biggest bulbs you can find. Here are some more tips:
- Pot it in a container that is slightly larger than the bulb is wide. Use a high-quality soilless potting mix that drains well. The top half of the bulb should be above the soil line. Water thoroughly. Place the bulb in a warm, sunny window. Allow the soil to go dry between watering.
Bloomin’ heart — In spring, these crocuses will bloom in a heart-shaped bouquet of purple, yellow, blue and white blossoms. (Photo courtesy Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center)
Fall is an ideal time to let kids make lawn art with spring-blooming bulbs. Children can create a design or a message in the grass that will appear next spring. For example, they can spell out a greeting, their name, the address or create a heart or other shape. Here are some tips:
- Early blooming bulbs allow for adequate ripening of the foliage before the grass needs to be mowed. After blooming, the foliage needs to ripen in order to replenish the under ground bulb for the following year’s flowers.
Removing the foliage before it turns yellow, brown or falls flat, will decrease the flowers next year. The ripening process may take up to six weeks. Larger, later-blooming bulbs, such as hybrid tulips (Tulipa) or daffodils (Narcissus), may not have enough time to ripen before the grass needs to be cut. However, if you are willing to sacrifice next year’s flowers for this year’s show, go for the larger bulbs and mow when needed.