Northern & Central Midwest
Watch for Houseplant Pests
Watch carefully for pest infestations on houseplants and herbs that were brought indoors. As conditions get drier from artificial heating, many pests such as spider mites and scale start increasing dramatically. Wash plants weekly with a strong spray of water to keep the dust down and populations at low numbers.
Pot Holiday Tender Bulbs
Pot up pretreated bulbs, such as amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus, for holiday blooms. With dormant amaryllis, replace the top inch of soil with fresh soil, bring into the warmth, and begin watering. Pot paperwhites in water with stones to anchor the roots, or use potting soil. Be sure to have stakes ready to prevent flopping.
Force Bulbs Indoors
Hardy bulbs that don't get planted outside can be potted up and forced to bloom indoors. Plant in wide bulb pots, water well, cover with a plastic bag, and refrigerate at 35 to 40 degrees F. After 12 to 14 weeks for large bulbs and 8 to 10 weeks for smaller bulbs, bring out into the warmth and start watering.
Remove Iris Foliage
Toward the end of the month, remove and dispose of all iris foliage. Iris borer eggs are laid in the foliage to spend the winter, and removing every trace of foliage will go a long way to ridding your garden of the borers that transmit bacterial rot.
Wash all soil from tools, brush rust off with a wire brush, and wipe down with oil. Sharpen pruners and loppers, wipe down with steel wool to remove plant sap, and wipe on a thin film of oil before putting them away. Sand and oil wooden handles.