University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Winter News Article


By Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

February, although the shortest month, can seem unbearably long to gardeners who can't wait to get their hands dirty again. While there are few outdoor gardening activities to do this month, indoors, gardeners can keep busy caring for houseplants, planning the garden, and dreaming about the arrival of spring and the first crocuses, daffodils, and snowdrops.

If you potted daffodil or tulip bulbs in fall for forcing, by now they have received the required three months of cold (40 degree F) temperatures. Move them back into the light, and water sparingly to encourage bloom.

If you didn't find time to force bulbs last November, take advantage of the wide selection of potted flowering plants available this month at your local florist shop. While most were forced for Valentine's Day, who says you need a sweetheart in order to buy plants. Treat yourself to a blooming azalea, hyacinth, or pot of red, white, or bicolored tulips.

Outdoors, periodically take a walk around your yard to check protective mulches around trees and flower beds. If snow cover is light, winter winds may disturb the mulch, leaving your plants candidates for winter injury. Tamp down snow around fruit trees to discourage mice and voles.

After bouts of severe weather, remove ice and heavy snow from woody ornamentals and shrubs to prevent branch breakage.

February is a good month for a road trip. The Montréal Botanical Garden, the second largest horticultural garden in the world, is just a short hop over the border into Canada.

Although there's not much to see in the 30 outdoor gardens this time of year, the 10 exhibition greenhouses are lush with plants--about 36,000--representing natives of the tropics, the desert, and other environments. And don't forget to visit the nearby Biodôme, which features the plants and animals of four very diverse ecosystems.

Can't go to Montréal? Then visit a local greenhouse to soak up the warmth and check out new plant varieties.

Other activities for February: Start celery, leeks, and onions for transplant; join a gardening club or enroll in a class; surf the Net for interesting garden sites.

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