University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
PLANT LIGHTS AND OTHER FEBRUARY GARDENING TIPS
Charlie Nardozzi, Senior
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
Checking plant lights,
starting seeds indoors, and caring for cut flowers are some of the gardening
activities for this month.
If you are preparing to start seeds under grow
lights or fluorescent shop lights indoors, check the tubes for signs of age.
Tubes that have been used for two to three seasons probably have lost much of
their intensity even though they look fine. Dark rings on the ends of the tubes
are a sign they need to be replaced. A
light meter, available online or at some garden supply stores, is useful to
make sure your seedlings (and houseplants) have sufficient light.
To get off to a clean start with seed starting this
year, disinfect flats and pots in soapy water with bleach added: one part
bleach to nine parts water. The longer you can soak them, the better. Then
Long-season alliums, such as
leeks and onions, should be started from seed now. They need 10 to 12 weeks of
growth indoors before they go in the garden. Sprinkle the seed on top of
seed-starting mix, keep it moist, and as soon as the seedlings emerge, place
the flats under grow lights so they grow strong.
For seeds that need warmth to germinate, a heat mat
underneath the flat can make a big difference. Once the seedlings are up, move
them off the mat and grow them on at a cooler temperature to encourage strong,
It's not too soon to start
annuals that get off to a very slow start, such as pansies, violas, petunias,
snapdragons, and lobelia. While garden centers offer some favorites, the
choices are seemingly endless when your grow your own, and the quantity will be
too if you save all the little seedlings. Be sure and check out seeds of the newest
When buying cut flowers, arrange
them in a vase of warm water, and add commercial floral
preservative. Or you can make your own with 1 cup non-diet
soda, 3 cups water, and one-quarter teaspoon household bleach.
The sugar in the soda provides energy for the
flowers, the bleach controls bacteria, and the soda acidity helps water
stems. If you need more liquid, just increase the amounts
Change the water in the vase
every couple of days. Don’t mix new
flowers with old, as water from older flowers may be stale with bacteria. Other tips for longest life of cut flowers
include keeping them cool, and away from smoke.
Keep them away from ripening fruit too.
These often give often ethylene gas which shortens flower life.
Other gardening activities for
this month include keeping suet outside for the birds, enjoying your winter
landscape on skis or snowshoes, and checking stored vegetables and summer bulbs
Return to Perry's Perennial