The Tri-State's Most Up-To-Date Gardening News
From Al Krismer Plant Farm
-- January Garden Tips
Greetings Gardening Enthusiast,
Bare branches of each tree
on this chilly January morn
look so cold so forlorn.
Gray skies dip ever so low
left from yesterday's dusting of snow.
Yet in the heart of each tree
waiting for each who wait to see
new life as warm sun and breeze will blow,
like magic, unlock springs sap to flow,
buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow.
January Garden Tips
Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs
Confused about mail ordering plants? Are you concerned about being
ripped off? Then go to
Dave's Garden Watchdog site where you see how other gardeners
rate their experiences with online nurseries and mailorder
websites. This site has 15,000 plus subscribers.
Purchase seeds and seed starting supplies this month. If you save
seeds from year to year, check for viability now. Place several
seeds on a damp paper towel and keep in a plastic bag. Check them
after the expected germination time has elapsed (usually stated on
the seed packet). If less than 75% have sprouted you may want to
purchase new seed. Consider purchasing a fluorescent light to hang
over seedlings started indoors
For more info on seed testing
If it should snow, carefully place shoveled snow over perennials.
Snow will insulate the plants from cold temperatures. The
temperature below the snow increases by 2°F for each inch of
accumulation. Do not use snow that has salt in it.
Watch for signs of soft or moldy bulbs if stored over winter. If
they have started to rot or decay, remove them and throw them out.
(This can occur if moisture gets into storage area.)
It's not to early to begin to think of a strategy for new spring
plantings. You might want to create a small map of your garden,
and use it as a guide for ordering plants and seeds from the
catalogs which will be arriving in the mail soon.
Check on pots of any bulbs you forced late last fall. Most forced
bulbs need 12-15 weeks of chilling. Remove them into warmth and
sunlight indoors when the tips are 1-2 inches high and/or roots
are growing out of the drainage holes
Inspect perennial beds for heaved plants during warm periods.
Mulch around heaved plants but don't push them into the soil! Dig
and replant them in the spring
If you start seeds under grow lights or fluorescent shop lights
indoors, check the tubes for signs of age. Tubes that have been
used for two to three seasons probably have lost much of their
intensity even though they look fine. Dark rings on the ends of
the tubes are a sign they need to be replaced
African violets make great houseplants and will flower in winter
if given supplemental light or bright northern light. To propagate
new plants, take a leaf cutting, dip the cut end in a rooting
hormone powder, and stick the cutting in a pot filled with
vermiculite or sand. Cover the pot with a perforated clear plastic
bag and keep the soil moist. In a few weeks you'll have new
During the winter most houses are too dry for house plants.
Humidity may be increased by placing plants on trays lined with
pebbles and filled with water to within one half inch of the base
of the pot. If you heat with wood, keep a pot of water on the
stove. The added moisture will be healthier for you as well as
Turn houseplants on windowsills 180 degrees after every watering.
This practice will prevent that stretched out to the sun look.
House plants with large leaves and smooth foliage, such as
philodendrons, dracaena and rubber plant benefit if their leaves
are washed at intervals to remove dust and grime, helping keep the
leaf pores open
To maintain healthy indoor plants in winter, feed monthly at 1/2
strength, rotate to ensure adequate and even light and use a
moisture meter to monitor watering needs
Check the leaves of your houseplants for insect problems like
scale, mites and mealy bugs. If you detect a problem, take a
sample to a reputable garden center and one of their plant
specialists will diagnose the problem and recommend the
Keep a pitcher of room temperature water ready for watering
Suspect overwatering if your plants' lower (older) leaves are
yellowing and dropping. Overwatering prevents roots from getting
oxygen for proper growth. The result is root rot, and possibly
death. Rotted roots can't take up water, so plants wilt. Gardeners
often mistake this for dryness, so water more and make the problem
Use plant friendly materials to melt ice on walks or driveways.
Urea (46.0.0), Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Nitrate, Calcium
Chloride and sand are all safe to apply near lawns and plants
Use discarded holiday greens and boughs to cover tender plants in
the garden. Remember to remove them in early spring as the weather
Other gardening tips for this month include fertilizing flowering
houseplants, keeping bird feeders filled, and ordering seeds
online or from catalogs for spring sowing. Visit the National
Gardening Association's web site for more information on gardening
and regional reports.
Sometimes in the middle of winter we suddenly get a few warm,
sunny days. For the most part this is not a big problem, but you
may need to ventilate your rose cones and coldframes to prevent
heat from building up inside. Remember to close the vents before
the temperature drops again at night.
If the ground is workable at all (not frozen and not too wet), now
is an excellent time to turn the soil. Not only will this expose
insect eggs to the effects of winter and hungry birds, the
freezing will help to break apart heavy clods of dirt.
While snow makes a good protective cover for plants, if you use
salt to melt ice on driveways or walkways, be careful not to pile
snow from these areas on your plants or where melting snow will
drain onto them. After the snow melts, flush the area around the
roots exposed to salt with fresh water
Shrubs and Trees:
Snow removal from shrubs should be done with care using an upward
motion. If a heavy layer of ice forms, leave it to thaw naturally.
Severe damage and breakage can occur while attempting to remove
built up ice.
Now is the time to order bare-root fruit trees online or through
catalogs, sources that offer a wide selection. Bare-root trees are
shipped in late winter or early spring before they start to grow,
but in time for immediate planting in your area
Outdoors, prevent salt damage to plants and trees by using
environmentally friendly salts, kitty litter, plant fertilizer, or
sand on icy walks and driveways. Protect shrubs growing under the
eaves of your house by wrapping them with burlap to protect them
from ice falling from the roof.
Apply an anti-desiccant such as
Wilt-Pruf or Winter Shield to azaleas, rhododendrons, hollies
and other broad-leafed evergreens to minimize moisture loss during
the cold, windy winter. Do this when the temperature is above 45
degrees F. It is important to protect these broad-leafed
evergreens for they have more surface area of leaf tissue, which
can lose moisture from the drying effects of the wind.
For more info on winter care of the landscape
Avoid heavy traffic on the dormant lawn. Dry grass is easily
broken and the crown of the plant may be severely damaged or
Even though the ground may be white and spring is far away, it's
not too early to start planning ahead to your 2007 lawn care
schedule. For example, major projects (such as putting in a new
lawn), routine maintenance, or addressing specific problems need
to be done at the right time, so a reminder on the calendar helps
when that month arrives.
For more tips on winter lawn care
Winter Water Garden Care:
If you have a water feature, be sure to check the pumps to make
sure they are working properly. Larger pumps that move a lot of
water typically will keep running throughout the winter without
any problem, however, smaller pumps, will most likely freeze and
should be turned off for the winter
Ensure that the fish are ok. If your pond freezes DON'T HIT THE
ICE TO BREAK IT. Instead, use hot water to melt a hole. Place a
ball on the surface to stop the hole freezing up
The ice on the pond must be kept open to prevent gases from
building up during the winter. Only a small hole is needed to be
More tips on winter pond care
Submersible pumps that are turned off for the winter should be
kept in water. Allowing a pump to dry can reduce the lifespan of
Feed the birds regularly and see that they have water. Birds like
suet, fruit, nuts, and bread crumbs as well as bird seed.
Click here on directions for
making home made suet.
Follow these cold weather bird-feeding tips to attract birds to
- Place birdfeeders where you can see the birds.
- Mount birdfeeders on poles or wires at least five to six feet
above the ground. Cover for the birds such as trees and shrubs
should be within five feet of the feeder.
- Provide birds with high-energy suet feeders. Suet feeders can
be made from beef suet or lard mixed with birdseed, oatmeal, and
Monthly Garden Tips are sent out by Al Krismer Plant Farm during the
year. Look for the Tips and the expanded e-news before the 10th of
the month. Quick Links below
The purpose of the website links and other news articles is to
provide information to the reader and in no way implies a particular
endorsement or recommendation of that particular website or any
content or material within the website
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