B. Rosie Lerner
Purdue Extension









HOME (Indoor plants and activities)

Check houseplant leaves for brown, dry edges, which indicate too little relative humidity in the house. Increase humidity by running a humidifier, grouping plants or using pebble trays.

Extend the lives of holiday plants, such as poinsettias and Christmas cactus, by placing them in a cool, brightly lit area that is free from warm or cold drafts.

Houseplants may not receive adequate light because days are short and gloomy. Move plants closer to windows, but avoid placing foliage against cold glass panes. Artificial lighting may be helpful.

Because growth slows or stops in winter months, most plants will require less water and little, if any, fertilizer.

If you are forcing bulbs for the holidays, bring them into warmer temperatures after they have been sufficiently pre-cooled. Bulbs require a chilling period of about 10 to 12 weeks at 40 F to initiate flower buds and establish root growth. Pre-cooled bulbs are available from many garden suppliers if you did not get yours cooled in time. Then, provide two to four weeks of warm temperature (60 F), bright light and moderately moist soil to bring on flowers.

When shopping for a Christmas tree, check for green, flexible, firmly held needles and a sticky trunk base -- both indicators of freshness. Make a fresh cut, and keep the cut end under water at all times.

Evergreens, except pines and spruce, can be trimmed now for a fresh supply of holiday greenery.

YARD (Lawns, woody ornamentals and fruits)

Check young trees for rodent injury on lower trunks. Prevent injury with hardware cloth or protective collars.

Keep road and sidewalk salt away from plants. Construct a screen of burlap, if necessary, to keep salt spray off plants.

"Leaf" through nursery catalogs and make plans for landscape and home orchard additions. Order plants early for best selection.

Early spring-flowering trees and shrubs, such as forsythia, crabapple, flowering quince, flowering dogwood and honeysuckle, can be forced for early indoor blooms by placing cut branches in water in a warm location.

GARDEN (Flowers, vegetables and small fruits)

Send for seed catalogs for the garden.

Sketch your garden plans on paper, including what to grow, spacing, arrangement and number of plants needed.

Order seeds and plants as early as possible for best selection.

Wood ashes from the fireplace can be spread in the garden, but don't overdo it. Wood ashes increase soil pH, and excess application can make some nutrients unavailable for plant uptake. Have soil tested to be certain of the pH before adding wood ash.


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox