University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
CLEANING BIRD FEEDERS AND OTHER JANUARY
Nardozzi, Horticulturist and
Perry, UVM Extension Horticulturist
bird feeders, giving your houseplants proper water, and checking
of seeds and supplies are some of the gardening activities for this
midwinter, and birds have been visiting your feeder for months.
you've been cleaning your feeder regularly, it could be making some
wild birds sick. To minimize the spread of disease, empty and
feeder monthly with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.
droppings off the perching area and make sure your bird food isn't
you don’t like to use bleach, a household disinfectant cleaning
product such as
Lysol works too, diluted half with water.
Allow to soak for 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
indoor fig (Ficus) tree is starting
to drop leaves, it may be due to your watering schedule. This
includes the common Benjamin fig and
rubber plant. Don't over water, and
don't let the plant stand in a saucer of water for an extended
length of time
or its roots may be damaged. On the other hand, don't let soil dry
completely either. Try to keep the soil evenly moist, watering
then allowing the excess water to drain. Wait until the soil dries
to the touch before watering again.
houseplants are growing tall and leggy, they probably need some
light. Use lights to help compensate for short days. You can use
tubes, or most any spot lamp. Best are those listed as “full
“daylight” or similar wording. I like to
use light fixtures that clamp onto a bookcase or similar extending
the lights 4 to 6 inches above the tops of the plants, and keep them
about 16 hours a day using a timer available at hardware or home
violets make great houseplants and will flower in winter if given
light as noted above for leggy houseplants. To propagate new plants,
leaf cutting, dip the cut end in a rooting hormone powder, and stick
cutting in a pot filled with vermiculite or sand. Cover the pot with
perforated clear plastic bag and keep the soil moist. In a few weeks
have new plants.
to dust off the seed-starting equipment. Take inventory of trays,
six-packs from past years and discard any that are cracked. Reduce
disease by soaking them in a solution of 10 percent bleach and
half-strength household disinfectant, then air dry.
germination test on stored seeds to see how viable they are. Place
10 or 20
seeds between two sheets of moist paper towel and tuck into a
plastic bag. Place in a warm area, and check every few days. If
less than 80 percent, consider purchasing new seeds of that crop.
the time you’ll get seed and plant catalogs in the mail if already
on lists, or
look for such in magazines and online to order.
Looking through these, and through websites online, is a great way
spend many hours during our short winter days and long cold nights.
Look for new introductions but, as for any
plants, make sure they’ll be hardy in your area unless annuals.
Most these sources discuss hardiness and show
the hardiness zone map, which you also can find online
(www.planthardiness.ars.usda.gov). You can see online, too, how
some of the
newer annual flowers have performed in Vermont
(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist,
author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com).