Monthly Tips for February

Soil

  • Cover cropsTest your soil. Be prepared to raise soil pH with lime or lower soil pH with iron sulfate and elemental sulfur this spring according to the written recommendations you receive.  For more information on soil testing see: Soil Testing
  • Bare soil is prone to erosion and should be covered with mulch, cover cropsgroundcovers, or turf.
  • Poor, compacted soils can be improved through the generous addition of organic matter. This spring, spade or till in a 6-8 inch layer of compost for new flower and vegetable garden beds.

Wildlife

  • BirdfeederContinue to feed wild birds through the remaining winter weeks. Black oil sunflower seeds and suet cakes are a good choice for a wide variety of birds. Keep bird feeders clean and provide your wild birds with fresh water.
  • Squirrels will come to eat the bird food you put out even when your bird feeders are advertised as “squirrel-proof.” Squirrels quickly become tolerant to the hot pepper repellent added to some bird feeds. Place squirrel baffles around feeders to keep them out, learn to live with squirrels, or offer them alternate food like ears of feed corn. Consult the staff at your local wild bird store for more detailed feeding suggestions.
  • This is the mating season for foxes. Late at night, they make a loud noise that sounds like a person screaming. (Listen)

Houseplants

Mealybug

Mealybug

  • In February, we will have passed through the darkest part of winter –  the days are longer and the sun is brighter. This is very good for houseplants. If you notice leaf yellowing and leaf drop on some of your houseplants it is usually a result of the low light conditions combined with over-watering. Most houseplants should be watered only when the top of the growing medium begins to dry out. It is always safer to slightly under-water than to over water houseplants. (PDF) HG 60 IPM Series: Houseplants
  • Mealybugs, appear as white fluffy masses on infested plants. (See photo above.) They can be controlled by swabbing them with rubbing alcohol or taking plants outside and spraying with a labeled houseplant insecticide. Don’t do this on a very cold day, or your plants will be damaged. Mealybugs and scales often become an overwhelming problem and it is best to discard extremely infested plants before the pests spread to your other plants.

More tips from the Home & Garden Information Center

The Home & Garden Information Center’s horticulturists are available year-round to answer your plant and pest questions. In addition to gardening questions, we cover houseplants, indoor pests, and more. Send your questions and photos to Ask an Expert!

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