- Avoid heavy traffic on dormant lawns. Dry grass is easily broken
and the crown of the plant may be severely damaged or killed.
- For easier lawn maintenance, eliminate acute angles in beds and
borders. Combine single trees or shrubs into a large planting
connected with ground covers.
- Don’t store your lawn spreader. Use it to spread sand or sawdust
on drives and walkways.
- If you suspect mice or rabbits are eating your bulbs, cover the
bed with small mesh chicken wire to deter their feasting.
- During winter thaws, water evergreens, especially those on the
south and west sides of the house.
- To prevent dehydration of broadleaf evergreens, spray them with
antidessicant. Make sure the temperature is above 40°F.
- Check perennials to see if any have been pushed out of the
ground by alternate freezing and thawing weather. Firmly press down
any that have lifted and cover with mulch.
- Remove tent caterpillar egg masses from fruit trees.
- When watering indoor plants, fill a container with tap water and
allow the water to warm to room temperature before pouring on cold
- Turn and prune houseplants regularly to keep them shapely. Pinch
back new growth to promote bushiness.
- Check all house plants closely for insect infestations.
- Quarantine gift plants until you determine they aren’t harboring
- To make economical ”sticky stakes” for trapping whiteflies and
aphids, cut bright yellow cardboard or plastic, such as margarine
tubs into strips. Coat with petroleum jelly. Insert them into the
pots of infested plants. After you have caught your prey, throw them
- Take cuttings of geraniums to plant out in May or June.
Clean pots and flats to be used for starting seeds.
- Have your lawn’s pH tested. Apply lime to the lawn if
indicated by the test. Freezing and thawing will work the lime
into the soil.
- Frost seed bare spots in the lawn.
- Use your grapevine prunings to create a wreath.
- Check trees and shrubs for bagworms. Remove them. Bagworms
look somewhat like a pine cone hanging at the end of branches.
- When choosing plants for the landscape, remember that plants
that are suited to your soil and climate will be more resistant
to problems. If you want to experiment with exotics, be prepared
to give them more care.
- Late winter is the time to prune many deciduous trees. Look
over your plants now and remove dead, dying, unsightly parts of
the tree, sprouts growing at the base of the tree trunk, crossed
branches, and v-shaped crotches.
- Pot up a few clumps of crocuses from the garden as they
emerge. In a sunny spot indoors, they will develop blooms
sooner than they will outside.
- Check stored bulbs, tubers, and corms. Discard any that are
soft or diseased.
- Give your houseplants a shower. Dust build-up on leaves can
- Never fertilize a plant in dry soil; thoroughly water the
plant first to prevent damaging the roots.
- Start slow developing flowers such as alyssum, coleus, dusty
miller, geranium, impatiens, phlox, vinca, and verbena in
- Don’t start your vegetable plants indoors too early. Six
weeks ahead of the expected planting date is early enough for
the fast growth species such as cabbage. Eight weeks allows
enough time for the slower growing types such as peppers.
- Don’t throw out leek roots, replant them . In 60-90 days you
can harvest them again. You can even use the roots of leeks
bought at the grocery store, giving you two leeks for the price
- Repot houseplants that have grown too large for their
containers. Cut back leggy plants to encourage compact growth.
- Houseplants can be watered more frequently with the onset of
spring and new growth.
- Start tomato seeds now. Keep them warm (72’ F) until they
- Before working an area in the garden for early spring
planting, check the soil. It should be dry enough to crumble in
your hand before you work it.
- Gardening in raised beds improves drainage and gives an
earlier start in areas with cold, wet soil.
- Crop rotation isn’t just for farmers. Changing locations
every year can help prevent some diseases from occurring,
especially in the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes,
peppers, eggplants). Not only will this help reduce pest
problems, but the soil nutrient balance will have a chance to
recover. Different families of plants deplete the soil of
- Have your soil tested. Vegetable plants grow best in soil of
pH 6.0 to 6.5. .
- Finish pruning trees and shrubs. Don’t leave stubs when
pruning; stubs usually die and are entry points for decay
fungus. Trees that bleed, such as birch or maple, should not be
pruned until after their leaves are fully developed.
- Don’t buy more chemicals than you can use in a season.
Dispose of aged or no longer used chemicals according to local
regulations. Do not pour them down the drain or on the ground,
as they can pollute the water system, damage the soil, or injure
you if you come into contact with them.
- Keep off soft and soggy lawns. Lime spreaders, wheelbarrows
and other equipment will leave compaction marks.
- Begin removing winter mulch from perennials.
- Ornamental grasses can be pruned now to get them in shape
for spring. Overcrowded clumps can be divided and replanted.
- Fertilize evergreens.
- Check ornamentals for spider mites.
- Easter Lilies need bright, indirect light and moist soil.
After blooming, they can be planted in a sunny spot after danger
of frost is over, but don’t plant them near other lilies. Easter
lilies carry a virus that can infect other lilies.
- Indoors, sow seeds of impatiens. Keep at 72’F until seeds
- Prune and fertilize old roses. Plant new rose bushes.
- Destroy gypsy moth egg masses. They are brown fuzzy masses
on tree bark.
- Prune spring-flowering shrubs after flowering is completed.
- Outside plant parsley, chives, beets, lettuce, spinach,
radishes, and carrots. When iris leaves 0appear weak and thin,
check for borers. These grub-like insects can ruin the plant if
not detected early.
- Apply pre-emergent crabgrass control in mid April.
- Seed new lawns. Reseed bare spots. Do not mow the grass
until at least 4” tall. The roots are being renewed in the
spring and grass needs vigorous top growth initially.
- The first grass clippings are rich in nutrients and contain
fewer weed seeds than those collected later. Put them in the
compost pile, use a mulching mower, or mow frequently and leave
them on the ground.
- Overgrown summer and fall perennials can be dug, divided,
- Prune early-flowering shrubs such as forsythia ,weigela,
lilac and spiraea after blooming.
- Don’t be too anxious to move houseplants outdoors. Even a
good chill can knock the leaves off tender plants.
- Move your houseplants outdoors when night temperatures stay
above 50’F. Move the plants to a shady location first, then you
may proceed to move them gradually into more light to prevent
burning the foliage.
- Vegetable and annual seedlings may be planted outdoors May
20-30. Don’t forget to harden them off first.
- When transplanting seedlings in peat pots into the garden,
do not allow the pot to protrude above the soil level. It will
act as a wick and draw moisture away from the transplant.
- Time to control birch leaf miner
- Rhododendrons can be pruned right after bloom.
- Check for bagworm on evergreens.
- Fertilize azaleas immediately after bloom.
- Plant ground covers under shade trees that don’t allow
enough sunlight to sustain grass. Periwinkle, English ivy, and
liriope are a few ground cover plants that grow well in shade.
- Most evergreens have many roots near the soil surface. Avoid
deep cultivation that might wound roots.
- Watering with drip irrigation or soaker hoses will reduce
the spread of black spot in roses.
- Stay out of the garden when foliage is wet. Walking through
a wet garden spreads disease from one plant to another.
- Fertilize your lawn now. Watch your lawn for smut and
- Work lime into the soil around hydrangea to produce pink
flowers or aluminum sulphate for blue.
- If you mow when the ground is wet, the mower wheels can damage a
new lawn. Mow grass to 2 1/2to 3 inches. Don’t cut more than 1/3 of
leaf length at one cutting. Leave short clippings on the lawn. They
will add nitrogen to the soil as they decompose.
- When trimming with a weed whacker, be careful around trees and
shrubs. Bark can be easily damaged opening the tree to insect and
- Check for chinch bugs in the lawn.
- Use Bt to control cabbage worms.
- Spray fruit trees.
- Tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings can be planted now.
- Bitter cucumbers can be avoided by keeping the crop well mulched
and watered regularly.
- Save leftover packs of seeds by putting them in an air-tight
container with a small amount of powdered milk (to absorb moisture)
and placing them in the refrigerator.
- Use pliers to pull up woodyseedlings and weeds. Grip the stem at
the soil line, twist itaround the pliers and pull straight up.
- Watering deeply the day beforepulling up the weeds will make the
- Watch for and control black spotand powdery mildew on rose
- Houseplants in containers without drainage holes are poor
candidates for outside. A rainstorm may drown and rot them. All
plants perform better in containers with drainage holes.
- Vacation hint: Sink houseplants, pots and all, in the soil in a
shady area of the garden. Mulch to reduce the need for frequent
- Avoid using peat as a mulch. It tends to form a tight mat,
virtually impermeable to light rain once it becomes dry. It is best
mixed in with soil as a conditioner.
- Plant bush beans every two weeks until late July.
- Fertilize the lawn Labor Day weekend, if needed. Don’t retire
your lawn mower yet. The lawn is still growing. As long as it grows
it needs to be mowed.
- Early fall is a good time to apply broadleaf weed killers. Be
sure to follow all the label directions.
- Be sure to clean the windows where plants will be this winter
while the plants are still outside. The difference in light
availability will be significant.
- Bring houseplants that we removed outside for the summer back
indoors before night temperatures drop below 55’F. Gradually
decrease the amount of light to acclimate the plants and prevent
- Be sure to control insects and diseases before putting them near
- Remove diseased plants from the garden and destroy them.
- Pot up or take cuttings from herbs now. Extend their growing
- Plant spring flowering bulbs in late September. Planting too
early can cause bulbs to sprout top growth before winter.
- Transplant or divide peonies, daylillies, iris, and phlox late
in the month.
- Lift tender bulbs (canna, dahlia, gladiolus) after the first
freeze. Let them dry out for about one week before storing them.
- Keep trees and shrubs, especially newly planted stock, well
watered until the ground freezes.
- Reseed bare spots or new lawns using good quality seed mixture.
- Continue watering fall-planted trees, shrubs and perennials. The
roots will continue to grow until the soil temperature drops to
about 40 F.
- Rake leaves as they fall. Shred them and use as a winter mulch
or start a compost pile.
- Do not become alarmed if your yews, pines, arborvitae, and
junipers begin to shed their interior needles. It is natural for
them to do so at this time of year .
- Complete planting of spring bulbs.
- Don’t leave a thick layer of mulch over your vegetable garden in
the winter or it will take along time for the soil to dry out and
warm up in the spring.
- lace a ripe apple in a closed container with green tomatoes to
encourage the tomatoes to turn red. Ripe apples give off ethylene
gas that causes tomatoes to ripen.
- Dig up summer flowering bulbs such as dahlias, gladioli and
cannas before the ground freezes and store in a cool, dry and dark
- Fall is an excellent time for taking soil samples in the lawn
and in the garden. Pick up a soil test kit at RCE.
- Christmas cacti need special care now to produce flowers in
December. Buds will form when temperatures are between 50° and 60°
or if the plant is exposed to at least 13 hours of complete darkness
- House plant growth slows as the days get shorter and light
intensity is reduced. Do not fertilize them until next spring.
- To keep your cat out of your potted plants, sprinkle the soil
with pepper. It works without harming either cat or plants.
- Clean up perennial beds.
- Stock up on birdseed for winter.
- Cut back iris foliage to prevent iris borer problems.
- Rake remaining leaves for backyard leaf composting.
- Drain garden hoses and store properly.
- Till your garden. It’s a good time to apply organic compost.
- Clean metal parts of your garden tools
with oil and treat
wooden parts with linseed oil.
- Remove gasoline from outdoor tools - lawnmowers, chainsaws, etc.
- Remove and get rid of dead and diseased plant parts from your
flower beds and vegetable garden. Damaged parts, if not infected,
may be composted.
- Mulches applied too early do more harm that good. A mulch is
used to keep soil temperature constant and prevent frost heaving,
not to keep it warm. It is best not to mulch until the soil
temperature has reached 32’</li>
- Fertilize the lawn now rather than in early spring. It’s good
for root growth, reduces clippings and fungus problems.
- Make a centerpiece for your table. Be thankful. Count your
- If you are planning to buy alive Christmas tree, balled and
burlapped, dig a hole now, fill it with straw, and keep the soil in
the garage until planting.
- Store liquid pesticides where they won’t freeze.
- Protect fruit trees from mice with wire guards.
- Review your subscriptions to horticultural magazines.
- Holiday gift for a garden friend- a book or subscription? It’s a
good time to order.
- Take cuttings from the yard for Holiday decorations
- Plant narcissus bulbs for holiday gifts.
- Tree service firms are not so busy now. Check for reduced rates
if your trees need pruning.
- Minimize foot traffic on a frozen lawn to reduce winter damage.
- Check tubers and corms in storage. If they are sprouting, put
them in a cooler spot. If they are shriveling, rewrap in paper bags
with peat moss or sawdust. Moldy or damaged roots should be
- Protect trunks of trees, particularly fruit trees, from hungry
mice and rabbits with quarter inch hardware cloth. To discourage
insects from hatching when nuts, seed pods, and cones are brought in
for holiday arrangements, place them in the oven on the lowest
setting for an hour.
- Some of the potted plants you receive during the holiday season
are not meant to be kept as permanent houseplants. They were raised
in a greenhouse and do not adapt well to home conditions. Treat them
like cut flowers, enjoy them as long as possible, but discard them
when they become unattractive.
- Watch out for spider mites on houseplants. They thrive in dry
air . Isolate the infested plant. Wash it with plain water. If this
fails, use the appropriate insecticide. Follow the instructions on
- Rotate houseplants in dim locations to sunny spots to keep them
in prime condition.
- Save cardboard cylinders from holiday wrapping paper for making
biodegradable cutworm collars. In the spring cut the cylinders into
3" sections to fit around your transplants.
- Try coating your snow shovel with a “no-stick” cooking spray;
the snow slides right off. Re-coat as needed.
- As with all living things, plants have a life span and
eventually will need to be replaced.