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Monthly gardening chores

There are garden related chores for each month of the year - regardless of the climate zone.

January      February      March      April      May      June      July      August      September      October      November      December


As a result of light and temperature declines, houseplants slow their growth during the winter months. They will not need as much water and fertilizer. Some signs of overwatering include:

  • Wilt, Stunted growth, Yellow leaves, Dropping of lower leaves, Black or brown water spots on leaves, Soft, shriveled stems

Houseplant foliage should not touch cold windowpanes as contact may damage or even kill the foliage. The below listed houseplants can tolerate indoor temperature as low as 55 degrees F.:

  • Azalea, Begonia, Cacti, English Ivy, Ferns, Freesia, Palms, Norfolk Island Pine, Philodendron, Primrose, Snake Plant, Spider Plant, Succulents

Using a soft damp cloth, gently wipe houseplant foliage to remove dust from the pores. Oils and leaf polishes should be avoided, as the foliage pores may become clogged, thus harming the foliage.

In order to produce flowers, light is an important factor. Long day plants, such as Calceolaria, Philodendron, and Tuberous Begonias need 14 to 18 hours of light for flowering. Short day plants such as Christmas Cactus, Chrysanthemum, Kalanchoe, Poinsetta, and Primrose need 10 to 12 hours of light in order to flower. Indeterminate day plants such as African Violet, Amaryllis, Azalea, Cyclamen, Geraniums, and roses bloom regardless of the duration of light.

Once Amaryllis flowers are spent, remove the flower and stalk. Keep the plant in bright light. Poinsettas last longer if kept in a bright room with average temperature of 65degrees F.

To avoid low humidity problems, keep houseplants away from drying heat sources. As a result of low humidity, houseplants may show these symptoms:

  • Dropping of lower leaves, Yellow lower leaves, Brown leaf tips

In order to prevent the low humidity symptoms symptoms, the humidity level must be raised. Set pots in trays of moist gravel, put a humidifier in the room, or group plants together. Some plants, which tolerate low humidity levels, are:

  • Cacti, Chinese Evergreen, Grape Ivy, Peperomia, Wax Plant, Snake Plant, Spider Plant, Succulents, Philodendron

Heavy snow and ice may crack tree / shrub limbs. Prune off cracked limbs to prevent further damage to the bark. Allow snow and ice to melt naturally, then gently add support to the bent limbs. Do not force them back to their original position as further breakage may occur.

Salt can seriously damage or even kill outdoor plants. Plants that are near a road should be protected with a barrier between the plant and the road.


Now is the time to start planning your gardens. A few planning tips for the vegetable and flower gardens are listed below:

Grow corn in a block of at least three rows, as it is wind pollinated.

Plant taller plants at the north side of the garden to avoid shading smaller plants.

Think of where your vegetables were planted last year and try to rotate your crop - do not plant the same vegetables in the area it was planted last year.

It may be too early to start many seeds indoors. Starting seeds in February may mean leggy, scraggly plants by the time they are ready to be transplanted outdoors (once the ground has warmed up).

Time to order seeds and perennials from catalogs and/or nurseries.

Apple and pear trees should be pruned now. Remove all water sprouts (those little "sucklings" that grow from the root and around the base of the trees). Prune all branches that are shaded out by larger, more mature branches.

Some houseplants are poisonous! The following are plants that may be toxic to humans and animals when ingested:

  • Lantana
  • Philodendron
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Poinsetta


For houseplants, Begin a fertilizing regimen of every couple of weeks when houseplants put out new growth.

March is a good time to propagate most plants.<

Peach trees can be pruned between now and early April. Hardy grapes can be pruned at any time.

Now is a good time to plant fruit and ornamental trees, shrubs, and roses. Plant these dormant plants as soon as they are received. If you are not able to plant upon receipt, store bare-root plants in a cold area.

March through April is a good time to start seeds indoors and begin preparing planting beds as soon as the soil can be worked.

Now is the time to be on the alert for pests on your outdoor trees and shrubs. Dormant oils smother scale insects, mites, and the eggs of other sucking insects. Spray the oil when temperature is over 40 degrees F. and rain is not expected for at least 24 hours.


Early in the month of April, using a high nitrogen fertilizer, fertilize all fruits except for strawberries. Soft berries will form if strawberries are fertilized early.

Now is the time to remove part of the mulch from strawberry plants. Leave the mulch between the rows in order to re-apply in the case of predicted frost.

Plant cold tolerant crops outdoors. To ensure continuous harvest of salad crops, repeat sowings every two weeks. Cold tolerant vegetables include:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Radishe
  • Endive
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Collards
  • Carrots
Put collars around young transplants to prevent cutworms and cabbage maggots.

Start seeds indoors for warm season vegetables. Such vegetables include: Tomatoes, Peppers, Melons

When Daffodils bloom, plant : Onion Sets, Swiss Chard, Beets, Parsnips, Parsley

Fertilizer high in phosphorus promotes strong root growth.

Early in the month of April, start annual flower seeds. These seeds can be transplanted outdoors after May 20.

Uncover and fertilize established Roses. At this time, prune back any dead or old canes to encourage new growth.

Dig and divide perennials (except the earliest bloomers - divide these in the fall) before their new growth is 4inches high.

Fertilize perennials and bulbs. Use either a balanced fertilizer or one high in phosphorus (to promote strong root growth).

Landscape plants are still dormant - now is the time to move them. This will give the plants time to become re-established before the hot summer months.

Prune summer-flowering shrubs by removing the oldest non-productive branches to the ground.

Now is also the time to prune vines that bloom on new growth such as Clematis Jackmanii. Doing this will promote vigorous new bushy growth.

Time to get rid of pests ! Clean the garden of leaves and debris. Closely inspect the ornamental trees, shrubs and pines for insects.


Spring flowering shrubs such as Forsythia and Lilac should be pruned after they bloom. Remove about half of the old thick branches - cutting them to the ground. The newer, younger growth produces better flowers.

Select annual flowers to fill in the empty spaces of the perennial gardens. For best results, select short, stocky plants with dark green foliage. Plants that are in full bloom are not a good idea.

Plant Gladiolus bulbs every two weeks through the end of June to ensure constant bloom.

Dahlias should be planted so the roots are 5 inches deep. Mound the soil around them as they grow.

When Tulips are at their peak, plant:

  • Sweet Corn
  • Bush Beans
  • Leeks

When Apples are in peak bloom and Lilacs are flowering, plant:

  • Pole Beans
  • Squash
  • Pumpkins

After all danger of frost has passed and when Iris and Peonies bloom, plant:

  • Tomato
  • Pepper
  • Eggplant
  • Melons
  • Cucumber
  • Lima Bean

Now is the time for spring lawn care. Re-seed bare spots in a sunny lawn with Kentucky Bluegrass. For shady lawns, re-seed with Red Fescue. Fertilize the lawn and compost grass clippings.


Fruit trees: For large fruit, thin Apples and Peaches to about 8 inches apart on the branches.

Harvest strawberries when they are firm and red. Overripe berries spoil rapidly, so they should be avoided.

Prune most evergreens now through July 15. Clip back new growth on Yews to keep them compact. When the young shoot tips (candles) of Fir, Pine and Spruce have elongated, cut them back to control height and width. Do not cut off the entire shoot as the tree may eventually die.

Houseplants can be placed outdoors in a shady, protected area. Even if the houseplant prefers full sun indoors, the direct heat and intensity of the sun will be too much for them outdoors.


During the month of July, do general harvesting of fruits and vegetables as well as flower care.

To keep annuals and many perennials blooming throughout the summer, pick faded flowers.

Iris and Peonies can be divided.

Trees and shrubs will benefit from 1 inch of water each week during the hot summer months.

If evergreens are stressed by drought, there will be excessive needle drop in September.

Evaluate your gardens and determine which plants should be moved and where you need to add additional plants.


Early August, in the vegetable garden, sow endive, spinach and lettuce for another crop. Harvest cucumbers and summer squash regularly in order for plants to continue producing.

Dig potatoes when the top of the plant dies. Do not leave potatoes in the sun as they will turn green and become toxic.

New trees and shrubs can be planted beginning late August through mid-October. Make sure to provide at least 1 inch of water per week to new trees and shrubs.

August is usually a hot month and some flowers do not perform well during this month. Some heat tolerant plants include:

  • Achillea
  • Aster
  • Coneflower
  • Daylilly
  • Gaillardia
  • Goldenrod
  • Phlox
  • Obedient Plant
  • Rudbeckia

Annual flowers can be rejuvenated by being slightly cut back and fertilized with a high phosphorus fertilizer.

As always, wash off your tools before you put them away for the night.


There is no way to tell when the first frost will hit, so be prepared to cover unharvested vegetables and flowers.

Dig Dahlias, Tuberous Begonias and other tender bulbs after the first frost. Air dry and store in a cool spot - approximately 45 degrees F.

Prune old raspberry and blackberry canes - with the exception of everlasting berries. The canes that are producing fruit now will produce fruit again next summer.

September is a great month to sow grass seed.

During early autumn, Evergreens drop their oldest needles. These needles can be used as winter protecting mulch for acid loving plants.

Take a tour of your garden and determine the areas that need plants for the fall blooming time.

Order spring flowering bulbs to be planted in fall.

Collect seeds from perennials and annuals.

Now is a good time to divide early blooming perennials such as Daylilies and Iris.

Add organic matter to garden soil.

Trees and shrubs can be planted in the fall. Determine where and what types you wish to plant.


For vegetable gardens and new flower gardens, prepare the soil by cleaning debris and adding compost.

Garden debris can be added to compost pile as long as the debris is not diseased. Leaves can also be added to the compost pile, however, they make a great mulch for tender perennials.

Remove annuals that have been killed by frost and begin planting spring-flowering bulbs.

Continue dividing early blooming bulbs.

Dig-up tender bulbs, tubers and corms and prepare them for winter storage.

Now is a good time to hit the stores for their sales on garden tools. They make great Christmas gifts!

Around the middle of the month, plant or transplant trees and shrubs - after the leaves have dropped.

Remember to clean and properly store all of your garden tools.


Mulch flowers once the ground has frozen - this protects the plants from heaving of the soil, which is caused by the ground freezing, thawing, then re-freezing (heaving disrupts the plant's root system).

Protect tender evergreens and other tender plants that are located in open areas from winter burn. Winter burn is caused by cold dry winds.

Protect plants that are located near roads and walkways from salt.

Continue planting spring flowering bulbs.

Now is a good time to spread seeds directly from the plant to the soil. Coneflower, Liatris, and Balloon Flower are great examples for easy seed spreading.

Reduce the feeding of houseplants.


Don't forget about the birds! The cold months and snow covered berries mean they have to search harder for food, therefore, it is a good idea to feed them.

For indoor bloom, purchase Narcissus and Amaryllis bulbs.

Don't forget to pay attention to your houseplants. Although the growth of many of them may have slowed down, they still need to be watered at least once a week.

Those gardening catalogues should be arriving soon - keep them handy for the spring garden plans.