by Cathy Bylinowski, M.S., Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
Weeks 1-4: To clean heavily encrusted clay pots, scrub them with a steel wool pad after they have soaked overnight in a solution consisting of one gallon water with one cup of white vinegar added. After the deposits are removed rinse the pots in clear water. A brief soak in a solution of one gallon of water with one cup household bleach added will help sanitize the pots.
Weeks 1-4: Some plants are sensitive to the fluorine and chlorine in tap water. Water containers should stand overnight to allow these gases to dissipate before using on plants.
Weeks 1-4: Wash the dust off of houseplant leaves on a regular basis. This allows the leaves to gather light more efficiently and will result in better growth.
Weeks 1-4: Set the pots of humidity-loving houseplants on trays filled with pebbles and water. Pots should sit on the pebbles, not in the water.
Weeks 1-4: Allow tap water to warm to room temperature before using on houseplants.
Weeks 1-4: Fluffy, white mealy bugs on houseplants are easily killed by touching them with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol.
Weeks 1-4: Insecticidal soap sprays can be safely applied to most houseplants for the control of many insect pests.
Weeks 1-2: Quarantine new gift plants to be sure they do not harbor insect pests.
Weeks 2-4: Amaryllis aftercare: Remove spent flower after blooming. Set the plant in a bright sunny window to allow the leaves to fully develop. Keep the soil evenly moist, not soggy. Fertilize occasionally with a general-purpose houseplant formulation.
Weeks 1-4: Gently brush off heavy snows from tree and shrub branches.
Weeks 1-4: Limbs damaged by ice or snow should be pruned off promptly to prevent bark from tearing.
Weeks 1-4: Check stored summer bulbs such as dahlias, cannas and gladioli to be sure they are not rotting or drying out.
Weeks 1-4: To reduce injury, allow ice to melt naturally from plants. Attempting to remove ice may damage plants further.
Weeks 1-4: Use sand, bird seed, sawdust or vermiculite to gain traction on icy paths. Avoid salt or ice melting chemicals as these may injure plants.
Weeks 1-4: Make an inventory of the plants in your home landscape. Note their location and past performance. Plan changes on paper now.
Weeks 2-4: Sow pansy seeds indoors now.
Weeks 1-4: Avoid foot traffic on frozen lawns. It may injure turf grasses.
Weeks 1-4: Keep records of your garden this year.
Weeks 1-4: Store wood ashes in sealed, fireproof containers. Apply a dusting around lilacs, baby's breath, asters, lilies and roses in spring. Do not apply to acid-loving plants. Excess ashes may be composted.
Weeks 1-4: Check all fruit trees for evidence of rodent injury to bark. Use baits or traps where necessary.
Weeks 1-4: Cakes of suet hung in trees will attract insect-hunting woodpeckers to your garden.
Weeks 1-4: Brightly colored paints applied to the handles of tools will make them easier to locate in the garden.
Weeks 1-2: Seed and nursery catalogs arrive. While reviewing garden catalogs, look for plants with improved insect, disease and drought-tolerance.
Weeks 1-2: Old Christmas trees can be recycled outdoors as a feeding station for birds. String garlands of peanuts, popcorn, cranberries, fruits and suet through their boughs.
Week 1: Christmas tree boughs can be used to mulch garden perennials.
Week 1: If you didn't get your bulbs planted before the ground froze, plant them immediately in individual peat pots and place the pots in flats. Set them outside where it is cold and bury the bulbs under thick blankets of leaves. Transplant them into the garden any time weather permits.
Weeks 2-4: Try sprouting a test sample of left-over seeds before ordering new seeds for spring. (Roll up 10 seeds in a damp paper towel. Keep moist and warm. Check for germination in a week. If fewer than half sprout, order fresh seed.)
Week 4: Swap seeds and information with gardening friends.
Gardening Calendar supplied by the staff of the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening located at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. (www.GardeningHelp.org)
Call MU Extension in Jackson County, 816-482-5650, for more gardening information.