The name for the month of February comes from the Latin word “februa,” meaning “to cleanse.”
Historically, there was a month-long purification festival held this time of the year.
Not only is it a great time of year to downsize and clean your home, but it’s a great time of year to clean up your plants, pots, yard, and garden tools. If you’re considering projects in your yard, now is a great time to schedule landscaping, too.
Houseplant Help
Thankfully, the days are getting longer, which means plants are getting more sunlight. Depending on what type of houseplants you have, they may begin showing signs of new growth.
If so, it’s time to start fertilizing with an orchid or indoor plant fertilizer.
If your plants are experiencing leaf yellowing and leaf drop, it could be a result of low light conditions combined with over-watering.
Spider mites are another possible culprit. So, be sure you’re checking your plants for pests, especially when the plants are appearing different than usual. If any plants are looking too leggy, don’t be afraid to prune or pinch off the parts that are unsatisfactory. Finally, make sure they’re away from heat vents or any drafty areas, such as a doorway.
Heat will cause your plants to dry out faster than expected, and cold has the potential to completely shock or even kill some plants.
Cleaning Up
Are some of your clay pots getting crusty? Add one cup of white vinegar and one cup of household bleach (or half as much concentrated bleach) to a gallon of water and soak the pots.
For exceptionally crusty pots, it’s best to soak a steel wool pad in the mixture for 12 hours, then scrub.
It’s recommended that you clean any gardening tools that got missed in your fall cleanup, or if you didn’t get around to them.
If you lose them easily, consider spray painting the handles with bright colors, or even adding a strip of bright duct tape.
Raspberries and blackberries should be pruned if you’d like to keep them producing fruit.
When pruning, make sure to discard old canes or burn them (safely) since dead wood can host a variety of pests and diseases.
By removing the older canes, your plant will be stimulated to produce new growth.
Planning With Purpose
Since it’s still chilly most days, this month is an awesome time to plan any outdoor gardening for the year. Catalogs are a great place to select and start ordering fruits and vegetables. Take time to plan out where new plants, trees and shrubs will be going in your garden.
Friendly reminder: If you’re planning on starting tomatoes, do not start them until late March or early April. Spring bulbs can still be planted if the ground is not frozen.
Inspect the bulbs and plant only the solid, healthy ones as bulbs can deteriorate when stored. They may still bloom this year but will not be as vigorous.
Do not cut back the green foliage that emerges, it’s best to let it die back naturally.
If you have any azaleas, rhododendrons, or roses, now is a good time to check and adjust soil pH if needed.
Azaleas and rhododendrons love high acidity and benefit from sulfur being added to the soil.
Their preferred pH is between 4.5 and 5.5. Whereas, Roses prefer a pH between 5.8 and 6.8. To raise your soils pH for roses, mix 5 to 10 pounds of lime per 100 square feet.
To lower the soil pH for roses, we recommend using Soil Acidifier at the previous rate.
Stay warm, and remember no matter what the Groundhog says, spring will be here before you know it.
(Editor’s Note: Ken Morgan is the owner of Robin’s Nest Floral and Garden Center in Easton, Md.)