What Should Gardeners Be Doing This Time of Year?


If you have any flowers, trees, or shrubs in pots, do remember to check them for water every week or so—you may not need to water, but at least check them. We have dry spells even in winter. This especially holds true for plant in pots under overhangs or on covered porches (rain doesn’t usually come down sideways!).

Check gardens for weeds and debris over winter. These make excellent hiding places for insects and diseases.

Get your pruners sharpened, because there are a number of plants that are best pruned in late winter (mid-end February). Evergreens like boxwoods, hollies, junipers, privets and arborvitae should be pruned then. By the way, you can find our Knife Sharpener (Blade City) here on Thursdays from 10 until 2 at our indoor Farmers Market.

Some shrubs that bloom on NEW growth should be pruned in winter—things like butterfly bushes, roses, crape myrtles, and dogwoods. Do NOT prune shrubs that bloom on OLD wood—forsythia, azaleas, spirea, etc. When in doubt, ask us.

The only plants that could be fertilized now are any pansies (since they are growing and blooming over winter) any winter-vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, etc.) and spring-blooming bulbs (like tulips and daffodils.) Do not fertilize any plants that go dormant.


Keep an eye out for indoor plant pests—like scale, mealy bug, etc. Because we don’t have natural predators indoors, they can quickly get out of control if we don’t catch them early. Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew or Neem Oil are good organic treatments, if necessary.

Remember days are short and sunlight weaker so plants may not dry out as fast so always check the soil with your finger before watering.

Don’t feed or repot houseplants until February—again, weak sun and shorter days are to blame. February is better for those. By February 1st, days will be a ½ hour longer than they are now and plants respond to better light by being ready to grow.

As a matter of fact, February is “Houseplant Month” here at the Great Big Greenhouse and we’ll repot for you—for free!

Now is a good time to start looking for seeds for spring—selection is great—even though you don’t want to start them yet. (I’ll do a blog on seed-starting in a couple of weeks.)

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