- This is a good week to give your houseplants a visual check-up. If leaves appear dusty you can wipe them off with a damp paper towel or put them in the sink for a tepid shower. You should be holding back on fertilizer for all foliage houseplants which need an artificial period of dormancy to simulate the conditions of their natural habitat.
- African Violets: Why not pick up an African Violet or two this week to brighten up the indoors. They show up in stores everywhere this time of year from supermarkets to the big box stores (Violets are the flower of the month for February). Unlike many other flowering houseplants, African violets will bloom year-round. They like morning light from an east -facing window or filtered light from a west-facing window with sheer curtains. They also want to be watered from the bottom with tepid not icy water. Leaves that get wet will spot. Use a weak dose of liquid fertilizer specifically sold for them added to the saucer of water.
- Azaleas: Did you receive a blooming azalea for the holidays? Most of the potted azaleas sold in stores and florist shops are not hardy outdoors, but they make lovely houseplants for us northerners because they prefer cooler house temps in winter (65 day and 55 at night) and they’ll re-bloom next year if you can give them about 4 hours of indirect sunlight a day.
It’s normal for old leaves to drop off, but if new ones drop, it means they need water or light. They like a weekly shower in the kitchen sink which will discourage spider mites and a summer vacation out of doors in a shady spot. Fertilize twice with acid fertilizer in April and again in July and repot with a good potting soil before bringing them back indoors.
- Compost: You can buy composters for under your sink and put those veggie peels and fruit peels to good use. I’ve seen them at Crate and Barrel and every garden catalogue, I’ve received. Or check out this website Just make sure you don’t compost any meat or cooked foods.
- Websites: Check out the internet to find gardening clubs, post questions and even swap seeds. Now’s the time to think about joining a garden club while you’re sitting inside pondering spring. You’ll meet wonderful people with like interests, get to volunteer for projects that enrich your community and learn as you do. You can find a local club by contacting your state chapter of the Federation of Garden Clubs.