Ask a Master Gardener: February gardening tips

As we are approaching to February, February gardening tips for indoor plants and vegetable production are provided in this issue.

For indoor plants, to extend the life of Valentine flowers, recut the stems underwater with a sharp knife and remove any foliage that would be underwater. Use a flower preservative.

Late winter is a good time to air-layer house plants such as dieffenbachia, rubber tree and corn plant. For more information, see MU extension guide g6560 Home Propagation of Houseplants

Check all five growing factors if your house plants are not growing well. Light, temperature, nutrients, moisture, and humidity must be favorable to provide good growth. For more information, see MU extension guide g6510 Caring for Houseplants

Repot any root-bound houseplants before spring when vigorous growth starts. Move plants up to a container no bigger than 1 to 2 inches larger than the present container.

If houseplants are showing new growth, it is time to start fertilizing. If there is no new growth, do not fertilize.

For vegetable gardening, do not work the soil when it is wet. The soil should be dry enough to crumble in your hand before you work it to prevent destroying soil structure.

Soil testing done now allows time for amendments to be applied before the gardening season. For more information on how to take a soil test, check out

Consider using season extension techniques such as cold frames, hot beds and floating row covers. This allows for an early start to the growing season. For more information, see MU extension guide g6965 Building and Using Hotbeds and Cold Frames

Check any onions, potatoes and winter squash you have in storage. Use or dispose any that show signs of shriveling or rotting.

Weather permitting, plant greens and spinach outdoors in February or March (depending on your location). For more information, see MU extension guide g6201 Vegetable Planting Calendar

Crop rotation in the vegetable garden is a good practice to develop. Draw a map of your garden and make copies of it. Each year, take a clean copy of the plan and fill it in based on rotating vegetable families. Keep each year's plan in a three-ring binder for easy cross-checking of varieties, rotations, etc.

(Source: Missouri Botanical Garden)

Dhruba Dhakal, PhD is a University of Missouri Extension Horticulturist, serving to Missourians about a decade in Central Missouri. Dhruba can be contacted at [email protected] with gardening questions.