February Gardening Tips
- Continue to use garden notes, photos, and sketches to plan and assess areas that need plants
- Finish ordering seeds
- Continue to order plants from nursery catalogues for later delivery
Chores and Maintenance
- Check on winter plant protection; add mulch and adjust plant stakes as necessary
- Continue to inspect ornamental trees and shrubs for scale insects
- Use wood ashes from the fireplace as a good source of potash
- Avoid the use of salt to melt snow, as it is toxic to most plants. Use sawdust, sand, or cat litter instead
- Check on dahlias, cannas, and gladiolus bulbs for rotting and/or drying out
- Keep bird feeders filled throughout winter
- Take cuttings of indoor plants now to use as bedding plants in the late spring; e.g. lantana, geranium, coleus, heliotrope, fuschia, begonia, etc.
- Sow seeds of annuals which require a long growing season, e.g. lobelia, petunia, vinca, browallia, snapdragon, verbena, etc.
- Continue to prune away storm-damaged branches promptly to prevent tearing of the bark
- Prune forsythia, pussy willow, quince, etc. for forcing indoors
- Continue to give houseplants increased humidity; mist often or place plants over a tray of moist pebbles
- On frigid nights continue to protect indoor plants from freezing; move them away from the glass or cover glass with thick newspaper or cardboard
- Continue to clean leaves of large and smooth-leaved houseplants like dracaena, philodendron, ficus, etc.
- Inspect houseplants for insect pests. Remove pests by hand and spray with insecticidal soap, if needed
- Clean clay pots by soaking overnight in a solution of 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of vinegar, and 1 cup of bleach
These gardening tips are applicable for the southeastern New York region: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6a and 6b, which include New York City, Northern New Jersey, Rockland County, Westchester County, Southern Connecticut, and parts of Long Island. Plant hardiness zones refer to geographic areas where the growing season of plants is determined by the time of killing frosts in the spring and fall. If you live in a more southerly plant hardiness zone, you can start gardening earlier in the season or in more northerly zones, you can start later. Even within zones, climatic factors such as altitude, proximity to water, wind exposure, winter sun exposure and snow cover contribute to the existence of different "microclimates" and can influence plant adaptability.
Generous support for the Home Gardening Center has been provided by Kenneth and Ellen Roman.