Timely advice on garden chores, fertilizing, pest control, and more from OSU Extension. These tips are not necessarily applicable to all areas of Oregon. For more information, contact your local Extension office.
The Oregon State University Extension Service encourages sustainable gardening practices.
Practice preventive pest management rather than reactive pest control. Identify and monitor problems before acting, and opt for the least toxic approach. Conserve biological control agents such as predators and the parasitoids that feed on insect pests.
- Plan to replace varieties of ornamental plants that are susceptible to disease with resistant cultivars in February.
- Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous ornamental shrubs and trees for propagation.
- Order a soil test to determine your garden’s nutrient needs. Contact your local Extension office for a list of laboratories or view Analytical Laboratories Serving Oregon.
- Begin planning this year’s vegetable garden in western Oregon and central Oregon. Check with local retail garden or nursery stores for seeds and seed catalogs.
- Keep a garden journal. Consult your journal in the winter, so you can better plan for the growing season.
Maintenance and cleanup
- Central/Eastern Oregon: To prevent winter damage from drying, water plants deeply every six to eight weeks, when the temperatures are above freezing.
- Place windbreaks to protect sensitive landscape evergreens against cold, drying winds.
- Reapply or redistribute mulch that has blown or washed away during winter.
- Clean pruners and other small garden tools with rubbing alcohol.
- Western Oregon: Water landscape plants underneath wide eaves and in other sites shielded from rain.
- Western Oregon: Do not walk on lawns until frost has melted.
Pest monitoring and management
Use chemical controls only when necessary and only after thoroughly reading the pesticide label. First consider cultural, then physical and biological controls. Choose the least-toxic options, and use them judiciously. Some examples include insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, botanical insecticides, and organic and synthetic pesticides.
- Scout cherry trees for signs and symptoms of bacterial canker. Remove infected branches with a clean pruner or saw. Sterilize tools before each new cut. Burn or send the branches to a landfill before bloom. See Managing Diseases and Insects in Home Orchards.
- Watch for field mice damage on lower trunks of trees and shrubs. Eliminate hiding places by removing weeds. Use traps and approved baits as necessary.
- Use dormant sprays of lime sulfur or copper fungicide on roses for general disease control, or plan to replace susceptible varieties with resistant cultivars in February.
- Western Oregon: Moss in lawn may mean too much shade or poor drainage. Modify site conditions if moss is bothersome.
- Mid-January: Spray peach trees with approved fungicides to combat peach leaf curl and shothole. Or plant curl-resistant cultivars such as ‘Frost’, ‘Q1-8′ or ‘Creswell’.
- Monitor landscape plants for problems. Don’t treat unless a problem is identified.
Houseplants and indoor gardening
- Monitor houseplants for correct water and fertilizer; guard against insect infestations; clean dust from leaves.
- Protect sensitive plants such as weeping figs from cold drafts in the house.
- Propagate split-leaf philodendrons and other leggy indoor plants by air-layering or vegetative cuttings.
- Plant dwarf annual flowers such as coleus, impatiens and seedling geraniums inside as houseplants.
- Western Oregon: Gather branches of quince, forsythia and flowering cherries and bring them indoors to force an early bloom.
Trade-name products and services are mentioned as illustrations only. This does not mean that the Oregon State University Extension Service endorses these products and services or intends to discriminate against products and services not mentioned.
— OSU Extension Service