Gardening Help Search

Temporary Closure

The Center for Home Gardening is currently closed to ensure staff and visitor well-being. Our Plant Doctor Service is still available through e-mail. If you have any gardening questions, you can e-mail us at Response time may be delayed as we have limited staff available to answer questions and are working through a high volume of e-mails. 

Soil Testing & Pot Recycling Suspended for 2020

Due to the Center for Home Gardening being closed, we are not able to conduct free soil pH tests at this time. As an alternative, soil samples can be submitted to the University of Missouri Extension's Soil and Plant Testing Laboratory

Plastic Pot Recycling for 2020 has also been suspended for the St. Louis region. Garden centers that have hosted pot recycling collection trailers will NOT be accepting garden plastics. Questions about pot recycling can be submitted to the Green Resources Info Service at

Plants of Merit 2021

Plants of Merit are plants selected for their outstanding quality and dependable performance in the Midwest in the categories of annuals, bulbs, edibles, houseplants, perennials, shrubs, trees and vines. Click the link below to view the new Plants of Merit selections for 2021.

Plants of Merit 2021

elephant's ear
Caladium 'Burning Heart'


Seasonal Gardening Tips

  • Set the pots of humidity-loving houseplants on trays filled with pebbles and water. Pots should sit on the pebbles, not in the water. 
  • Fluffy, white mealy bugs on houseplants are easily killed by touching them with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. 
  • Amaryllis aftercare: Remove spent flower after blooming. Set the plant in a bright sunny window to allow the leaves to fully develop. Keep the soil evenly moist, not soggy. Fertilize with a general purpose houseplant formulation.
  • Limbs damaged by ice or snow should be pruned off promptly to prevent bark from tearing.
  • Check stored summer bulbs such as dahlias, cannas and gladioli to be sure they are not rotting or drying out. 
  • To reduce injury, allow ice to melt naturally from plants. Attempting to remove ice may damage plants further. 
  • Make an inventory of the plants in your home landscape. Note their location and past performance. Plan now for any changes.
  • Seed and nursery catalogs arrive. While reviewing garden catalogs, look for plants with improved insect, disease and drought-tolerance. 
  • Use salt with caution or not at all around plants or you risk causing salt damage. The damage may not be evident until late winter or early spring as temperatures warm. 

Learn More

Enjoy the fragrant blooms of the Ozark Witch Hazel flowering in shrub borders or wooded areas on warm sunny days.
Repot any root-bound house plants now before vigorous growth occurs. Choose a new container that is only 1 or 2 inches larger in diameter than the old pot.
Repot any root-bound house plants now before vigorous growth occurs. Choose a new container that is only 1 or 2 inches larger in diameter than the old pot.
Bulb Forcing

Forcing bulbs indoors is a great way to add color to your living space during the winter and early spring months. Bulbs that can be forced indoors fall into two categories: those that need to be stratified or undergo a cool chilling period, and those that do not. Paperwhites (Narcissus sp.) and amaryllis (Hippeastrum sp.) are two of the easiest bulbs to force indoors as they do not require a chilling period, and can be potted up immediately after receiving them.

Bulbs that need a chilling period include crocus (Crocus sp.), daffodils (Narcissus sp.), hyacinths (Hyacinthus sp.) and tulips (Tulipa sp.). To force these, the potted bulbs must be stored in a dark area between 35-45 F for 12-15 weeks for the bulbs to root. A good storage location can include a cool, dark unheated basement, a refrigerator or an outdoor cold frame.

Place several bulbs in each pot for the best effect. A 6-inch pot can hold 3 hyacinth bulbs, 3-6 daffodil bulbs, 5-6 tulip bulbs or 8-12 crocus bulbs, or mix and match bulbs to create a unique floral display. Plant with the top of the bulb just at or below ground level. Water the soil well and store in a cool location so the bulbs can root. It is critical that the bulbs stay cool and the soil in the pots remain moist, but not wet.

After 12-13 weeks, check the pots. If roots have grown through the drainage hole and top growth is about 1 ½ inches high, the pot can be moved to a warm location with indirect sunlight. After a week, move the pot to a bright, sunny window and continue to keep the soil moist. The bulbs will bloom approximately one to two weeks later.

(Crocus vernus HOKUS CROCUS)

common hyacinth
(Hyacinthus orientalis
'Purple Sensation')

split-corona daffodil
 (Narcissus 'Cassata')

jonquilla daffodil
(Narcissus 'Sailboat')

amaryllis (Hippeastrum 'Fairytale')

jonquilla daffodil (Narcissus 'Sailboat')

Gardening Help

The Center for Home Gardening is currently closed. If you have any gardening questions, you can e-mail us at

Bloom Time Calendar

See when plants bloom at the Garden: