David C. Zlesak
Photo 1: With increasing light levels, houseplants can use more nutrition. David Zlesak
Continue to the planning process for your 2009 garden. As you decide the plant materials you would like to have this season consider how you will obtain these plants. Some may not be readily available and you will need to start them from seed soon or orders should placed soon for seed and nursery stock to help ensure you get what you want. Many catalog suppliers have discounts or other incentives for those that order early.
Photo 2: Being welcomed home on a winter day by the smell of spring bulbs is a glorious experience. David Zlesak
As the days get longer and light intensity increases, consider starting to fertilize houseplants again. It is important to read and follow directions carefully. Different fertilizers have different concentrations of nutrients in them which can lead to different application rates. Also, fertilizer formulation is an important factor because that can influence how fast it dissipates, how readily the nutrients are available to the plants, and how often it should be applied. Again, take the time to read and then follow the directions. As light increases this time of year, so does the potential for photosynthesis and ultimately growth. It is important to recognize that fertilizer does not provide plants with energy, but building blocks for growth. These elements are assembled to build tissue for growth from the energy captured from light via photosynthesis. It is important not to overfertilize plants because buildup of unused fertilizer can damage plants.
Bring a preview of spring into your home with forced bulbs. If you haven’t potted some spring flowering bulbs for forcing yourself, they can readily be purchased from garden centers. Purchase potted bulbs that have not opened yet and keep them in a relatively cool spot in the house to help extend the impressive show.