University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
PINCHING HOUSEPLANTS AND
Charlie Nardozzi, Senior
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
back houseplants, getting ready for and sowing some seeds, and checking
summer bulbs are some of the gardening activities for this month.
With the stronger sun and longer
days, houseplants will be putting out more new growth that can become
Also these succulent shoots are very appealing to aphids. Keep pinching
growing tips and move plants around if needed to give them all some
time in the
sunniest windows. Rotating plants a quarter turn weekly will help keep
a break in the cold brings temperatures above 40 degrees, it's a good
spray dormant oil on landscape plants infested with scale and other
overwintering pests. The oil will smother the insects.
You'll want to get to your pruning
tools in February and March for dormant-season pruning, so dig them out
clean them up if you didn't get that chore done in the fall.
pruners if easily done, loppers, and shears; sharpen the blades, oil
levers, and remove any rust. Pruning trees will go much faster and be
your hands and on the plants if you use sharp, well-maintained
If you've stored dahlias and other
tender bulbs in a cool spot for the winter, check on them now and then
remove any that are moldy or rotted. Also they may begin sprouting
they've been a bit warm, and then you'll need to pot them up and grow
them indoors (in as
cool an area as possible, but not freezing) until spring. If you let
grow without being planted, the bulbs will soon die.
For seeds that need warmth to
germinate, a heat mat underneath the flat can make a big difference.
seedlings are up, move them off the mat and grow them on at a cooler
temperature to encourage strong, stocky growth.
It's not too soon to start annuals
that get off to a very slow start, such as pansies, violas, petunias,
and lobelia. While garden centers offer some favorites, the choices are
seemingly endless when your grow your own, and the quantity will be too
save all the little seedlings. Just remember when sowing to sow a few
but not too many. Keep in mind all those
plants will need planting and weeding, and do you really have space for
If you just need some color to
brighten up winter days, consider a pot or two of forced bulbs (if you
start your own), or some cut flowers.
Buy cut flowers in bud, just opening, for longest life. Keep cut
flowers protected on the way home
from freezing, and put right in water containing a flower preservative
(available at most florist shops and garden stores).
Another way to get some color indoors
is to cut some branches of pussy willow, forsythia, crabapples or other
flowering plants to force into bloom indoors.
Soaking in a bathtub overnight may help, but you don't need to pound
ends of branches as some recommend to "loosen" them up. A clean
cut with sharp pruners is
Other activities for this month
include keeping birds fed regularly, pruning fruit trees and grapevines
blueberries, checking houseplants for pests weekly and fertilizing