Spring Garden Tips

Melinda's Gardening Tips for Late January

Whether you are hoping for a big harvest, a beautiful landscape, or a little stress relief, knowing the when and how of gardening will help you be a success. Use these timely garden tips to eliminate some of the guesswork. For more gardening tips, check out Melinda's gardening books.


Jump start the season by starting some of your flowers and vegetables indoors. All you need is a clear surface, bright light and warm moist soil. Increase your success by investing in some fluorescent lights and hang them 4 to 6 inches above your seedlings as they start to grow. Set the timer for 14 to 16 hours of light each day.

Click here to read more on How to Hire a Professional

Growing Green

Recycle old catalogs as new ones arrive. Check with schools, churches, and daycare centers that may be able to put the pretty photos to work in craft projects. Or contact horticulture students and master gardeners that may be interested in using the catalogs as a reference or the photos for creating references or in school projects.

Click here for Low Maintenance Eco-Friendly Landscape in 5 Easy Steps


Gardening Tips for Flowers

Start bringing forced bulbs out of cold storage. Move to a cool sunny location once they have been chilled for 12 to 15 weeks. Water thoroughly and whenever the top few inches of soil begins to dry. Stagger the starting time to extend your indoor bloom.

Adjust your watering schedule to match the needs of coleus, geraniums, fuchsias and other annuals overwintered as houseplants. The shorter days combined with less intense sunlight and low humidity of winter changes the plants' needs. Water the soil thoroughly and wait until the soil is slightly dry before watering again.

Also, do not be overanxious to fertilize your overwintering annuals. The poor growing conditions found indoors during the winter results in slow plant growth that requires very little, if any fertilizer. Only fertilize plants with stunted growth, yellow leaves or other signs of nutrient deficiencies.

A Fabulous Garden in 5 Easy Steps

Fall Landscape Care in 5 Easy Steps


Gardening Tips for Edibles

Monitor herbs and other indoor plants for aphids and mites. These insects suck out plant juices, causing them to yellow and brown. You may see a clear, sticky substance on the leaves. Spray infested plants with insecticidal soap. You may need to apply several applications one week apart for adequate control. This is safe for the herbs and all who eat them.

Check winter mulches on strawberries. Replace any that were dislodged in bad weather. Can't see the mulch through the snow? That's great! Snow is the best insulation available. In the Great Lakes region we're experiencing warmer than normal temperatures and a lack of snow. The constant freezing and thawing is hard on plants. The shifting soil can push bulbs and perennials out of the ground. So save the discarded Christmas tree, evergreen boughs and straw. Apply these materials once the soil freezes. Mulching warm soil provides a great habitat for plant-eating rabbits and rodents and can harm the plants. Winter mulch will protect overwintering flower buds and prevent the plants from frost heaving.

Click here for Flavorful Vegetables in 5 Easy Steps


Trees, Shrubs and Roses

Do not shake heavy snow and ice off the branches of trees and shrubs. This can cause more damage than if the snow was left in place. Make a note on your calendar to prevent plant damage next season. Apply winter protection in late October or November before the heavy snow arrives.

Check ornamental plums and cherries for Eastern tent caterpillar egg masses. The eggs look like a shiny glob of mud on the stem. Prune and destroy all that are found. While you're at it, check these same plants for black knot cankers. This fungal disease causes branches to swell, eventually turn black, and crack open, releasing infectious spores. Prune out infected branches below the swollen areas. Burn or bury cankered branches to reduce future infections. Disinfect your tools between cuts with rubbing alcohol or a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.

Click here for more on Trees

Click here for more on Shrubs

Click here for more on Roses


Lawns and Groundcovers

Make a note of areas where snow and ice tend to linger. These are prime candidates for snow mold and other problems. Damaged turf will be matted and covered with gray or pink fungus in the spring.

Draw a sketch of the lawn. Mark any areas where water and ice collect, snow is slow to recede, and deicing salts may cause damage. Add "filling in low spots and improving drainage problems" to your spring To-do list. These changes will improve the health and beauty of your lawn while decreasing disease problems. Plan to rake these areas of the lawn as the snow and ice recede. A light raking helps reduce the risk of snow mold.

Watch for vole activity. These rodents scurry beneath the snow eating weeds, chewing on bark, and wearing a trail in the lawn. Be prepared to do a little raking and overseeding in the spring.

Click for more on Lawns

Click for more on Groundcovers

Click here for A Fabulous Lawn in 5 Easy Steps


Tips for Indoor Plants

As the temperatures get bitterly cold this month, you may need to sacrifice some sunlight to keep your plants warm. Move plants away from windows, especially drafty ones, and keep the curtains and blinds between the cold windows and the plants. Never trap plants between the curtains and windows where they can suffer cold damage.

Give your plants a bit of tender loving care. Wipe the dust off glossy-leaved plants. Use a soft cosmetic branch to dust African violet and other hairy-leaved plants. Remove faded flowers and prune off insect-infected, broken, or wayward branches. Save major pruning for late February.

Click for more on houseplant care .


ASK MELINDA - Get immediate answers to your gardening questions! Check out my searchable database of more than 30 years of questions and answers, podcasts and videos.

LANDSCAPE MAKEOVER IDEAS - Check out my landscape makeover photo gallery to get ideas on making over your yard and then post photos of your accomplishments!

MELINDA'S GARDEN MOMENT VIDEOS - In need of more gardening tips that can visually walk you through the process? Watch online streaming video of my nationally-syndicated gardening videos.

PODCASTS - Listen to my gardening podcasts