1.       Attract birds to the winter landscape by feeding with a recommended mix for your area. Remember that the mix must be for the birds that will over winter in your garden. In the fall and spring we have migrations but very seldom in the winter.

          Birds need water to drink, to clean themselves, and also as a way to stay warm. So keep your bird bath filled and use a birdbath de-icer or heater. You can purchase one that you set in the bowl or I have one that has the heating coils built into the bowl. Open water is a real bird magnet. 

2.       Increase humidity around houseplants with a pebble tray or humidifier as soon as the heating season begins. This will alleviate leaf drop and browning of the tips of many plants. Be careful as high humidity can have a damaging effect on furniture.  Placing plants close together and using pebble trays usually is the best. Kitchens and bathrooms with their steam and running water are obvious spots to locate plants so they receive needed moisture from the air. However, kitchens also have ovens and burners that give off excessive heat and dry the moisture in the air. This frequent heating and drying action can offset the advantages of evaporating water.  Spritzing the leaves of plants has some value but limited as usually the water dries off the leaves in a very short time.

          Also check your houseplants for insects. I always spray my plants with insecticidal soap before I bring them back into the house after a summer outside, and then apply a systemic houseplant insecticide to the soil. One has Di-syston as the active ingredient and must be applied every 30 days. Another with Imadicloprid (Merit) needs to be applied every 60 days. The Di-syston has some smell to it whereas the Merit does not and lasts longer. Plants left inside all summer also need the systemic treatment.

3.       Try forcing some extra bulbs indoors for a splash of color in January and February. Now is the time to get started. Paperwhites, Daffodils, Hyacinth, Tulips, and Crocus are excellent bulbs for forcing inside in containers.  To mimic their natural dormancy period they will need six to ten weeks of chilling (40 degrees F. or below) in a garage or porch but do not freeze. Some put the bulbs in a refrigerator for 6 to 10 weeks. Do not put in the freezer. Then bring out to a cool room (50-60 degrees F.) and keep shaded for the first few days. Paperwhites and Daffodils do not need a cold treatment. Your local County Extension Office and most garden centers have information on forcing bulbs.

          Also check with your knowledgeable garden center specialist to see if they have on hand bulbs that have already been cooled for forcing. Many have some that are ready to go. Most of these are ready to be planted in a container and may even be starting to sprout.

Copyright 2016