Monthly Archives: January 2024

The Best Birdseed for Winter Finches

Gardening and landscaping may be at a standstill during the coldest, deepest days of winter, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to enjoy in your yard. In fact, there are many beautiful birds that visit our yards only in winter, including whole flocks of fantastic winter finches. With the right bird feeders and the very best birdseed, plus a few other key winter garden accessories, you can easily enjoy a flock of feathered fun all winter long.

Winter Finches to Watch For
There are many different birds that thrive in northern regions. When winter conditions are exceptionally harsh or food supplies are exceptionally low, these birds may move much further south than expected during the coldest months. While weather patterns, food sources and population changes all impact how many of these birds visit feeders, some of the most eagerly anticipated winter finches include…

  • Common redpolls
  • Evening grosbeaks
  • Pine siskins
  • Purple finches
  • Red crossbills

Several other northern species, including snow buntings, bohemian waxwings and boreal chickadees may also be seen at feeders more frequently in winter, but it is the finches that are often the most welcome and reliable winter guests – if you have the right birdseed and feeders to attract them.

Not in a northern area? No need to miss out even if the typical winter finches won’t make it to your yard! Many other finches, including house finches, Cassin’s finches, American goldfinches and lesser goldfinches visit more southerly regions in the winter or even stay in the same range year-round, and these tips work just as well for those species.

Feeding Winter Finches
Winter finches eat mostly seeds and grain, and they require great quantities of nutritious food to keep up their body heat and energy in the bitter cold. Black oil sunflower seed is ideal for most winter finches, even in southern areas. While their sturdy bills can break open these seeds, hulled sunflower seed is often preferred because there will be no discarded shells to build up under the feeder until the ground can be cleaned in the spring. Offering this seed in open platform feeders will accommodate large, hungry flocks, but hopper or tube feeders with covers will protect the seed better from snow, ice and winter rains that can cause mold.

The smaller finches, siskins, redpolls and goldfinches, are especially fond of Nyjer (finch) seed, and it is best to offer these tiny, lightweight seeds in small tube feeders or mesh feeders.

Making Your Yard More Finch-Friendly
The right food and feeders will feed hungry winter finches, but there are several additional accessories you can add to your yard to make it even more finch-friendly.

  • Fresh Water
    Despite all the snow and ice around in winter, birds need liquid water even more than they need food. Providing a heated bird bath when temperatures drop will give birds a fresh, liquid water source to visit so they don’t need to waste precious calories melting their own water.
  • Safe Shelter
    These birds are used to cold, but extra shelter can make a critical difference in bitter cold snaps, especially further south where dropping temperatures aren’t as common. Bird roost boxes and bird houses can be left up year-round for fast, easy shelter, and dense evergreen plantings also provide a good windbreak and comfortable spot for birds to rest.
  • Clean Facilities
    Bacteria is easily spread through dirty water and bird feces, and clean baths and feeders are essential to keep finches and other backyard birds safe. Use a weak bleach solution to sterilize feeders and baths regularly, and use scrub brushes, old toothbrushes or bottle brushes to get into every nook and cranny. Some bird diseases can also affect humans, so be sure to wear gloves when cleaning.
  • Open Feeding Areas
    Even the best food and greatest feeders won’t be useful if the feeding areas are buried under ice and snow. A broad, umbrella-style baffle can keep snow off feeders, or you can use a brush or old broom to gently remove snow when needed. Keep a small ground feeding area shoveled or tamped down to make foraging easier for birds under the feeder as well.

Winter finches are amazing backyard visitors that aren’t deterred by the cold days, chilly winds and frozen ground that keep gardeners inside for months. By providing good quality food, suitable feeders and other finch-friendly accessories, you can enjoy the energy, color and excitement of these birds in your yard all winter long.

Winter Gardener’s Calendar

Winter is a perfect time to plan! Curl up with your gardening books and the gardening magazines and catalogs you’ve received in the mail. Get out the gardening journal and start dreaming.

General Landscape

  • Clean up when you get a break in the weather. Remove fallen branches and downed evergreen clumps. Rake leaves to prevent stains on concrete and dead patches on lawn. If freezing weather is still in the forecast, leave the mulch in place.
  • If your Christmas tree is still around, set it where the dropping needles will provide mulch, use the branches as additional insulation for perennials, or get together with neighbors to rent a chipper and create wood chips for larger mulch.


  • Perk up tired houseplants by removing dead and dying leaves. Wash under a soft shower in the sink or tub.
  • Spider mites love living in warm dry winter homes. Check for mites by looking for tiny speckles on leaves. If so, pick up some Neem Oil or Horticultural Oil or Insecticidal Soap from Bonide.
  • Transplant if roots are growing through the drainage holes or over the pot edge. Pick up some new larger trend-setting colored pots to perk up your décor. Or, if you don’t want to move into a larger pot, untangle the roots and cut back by 1/3, scour the pots and replant with new soil.
  • Remember to turn your plants each week as they begin to grow towards the weaker window light.
  • Plant a terrarium or miniature garden. If you can’t play in the dirt outside, bring the fun indoors!
  • Pick up a potted plant for your valentine. Come in and choose from our thriving greenhouse full of succulents, tropicals and houseplants that are the perfect “I love you!”


  • February: Start vegetable and herb seeds indoors. Pick up some seed trays, heating pads, peat pellets and seed starting mix.
  • Sign up for our February 17th class “Seed Starting and Companion Gardening” and learn and companion gardening and different methods for seed starting.
  • These veggies need an early start indoors:
Onions, bulb

If you just need a breath of aromatic fresh garden air, stop by and smell ours! The humidity is perfect and will instantly transport you to spring. We’d love to see you!

Insect Control Begins Now

It’s hard to think of insects in winter, but don’t forget the havoc these tiny creatures can bring to your garden – defoliating leaves, contaminating produce, even destroying complete plants. Before these pests begin to be a problem is the perfect time to take steps to control them.

Why Winter Control?

Late winter is the right time to control insects for two reasons. First, the insects and their eggs are just coming out of dormancy. The shells and protective coverings are softer and more porous in late winter, and so are more vulnerable to the effects of oils and sprays. Second, the oil-water mixture should not freeze on the tree or plants, which could damage the plant and make the spray far less effective. When you spray, the temperature should be above 40 degrees. Delay spraying if freezing night temperatures are predicted. Choose a calm day for spraying to be sure stray breezes and cross winds do not spread the spray to plants you don’t want covered.

Insects to Control

In late winter, before any leaf buds begin to open, spray Bonide All-Season Oil or Dormant Oil Spray on fruit trees or other ornamental trees or shrubs to suffocate over-wintering aphids, thrips, mealybugs, whitefly, pear psylla, scale and spider mites that cling to the bark. The treatment will also destroy the eggs of codling moths, Oriental fruit moths and assorted leaf rollers and cankerworms. Don’t wait until the buds have burst in early spring, as the coating of oil will also smother the emerging plant tissue.

Tree Spraying Tips

While small shrubs can be easy to treat, larger trees are more challenging to be sure you don’t leave any area untreated where insects can thrive. Spray the whole tree at one time, concentrating on the trunk, large branches and crotches, rather than spraying down a whole row of trees at one pass. If you’ve experienced extremely bad infestations of insects, you might treat your trees a second time. But be sure to spray before the buds are near the bursting point. Dormant oil can also be used after the leaves have dropped in the fall. Never spray when any foliage or fruit is on the trees or you risk unwanted pesticide contamination.

After you spray, be sure to store any remaining oil properly and out of reach of children and pets. Containers should be labeled clearly and kept in cool, dark spaces to preserve their usefulness. Avoid reusing any sprayers to minimize the risk of cross contamination or inadvertent use.

Spraying for insects in winter may not be the most glamorous job, but you’ll appreciate the improvement in your trees through the spring and summer when you’ve nipped your insect problems in the bud.

Valentine Gifts From the Garden Center

Valentine’s Day is all about love, and if you love gardening, there’s no better place to find the perfect Valentine’s Day gifts than the garden center. Whether the gifts are for that someone special in your life or just to show some love to yourself or your garden, you can find a wide array of amazing choices for Valentine’s Day or any gift-giving occasion.

Gifts for Your Very Special Valentine

The garden center has much more than just tools or plants, and you can find a variety of nature-inspired gifts for everyone you love this Valentine’s Day. Whether you are shopping for a friend, neighbor, family member or anyone else on your friendship and love gift list, the garden center can offer the right touch of Valentine’s Day sentiment, including…

  • Wind chimes, welcome signs, decorative path stones, and colorful wall decor for the person who loves their porch
  • Bird baths, feeders, houses, nesting material and birdseed for the bird lover
  • Gnomes, fairy gardens, fun statuary and other whimsical accessories for the fantasy lover
  • Houseplants, succulents and easy plants for the plant lover who doesn’t have a full garden
  • Moisture meters, thermometers, pH test kits and rain gauges for the environment manager
  • Fountains, statues, gazing balls and other relaxing accents for those who love to meditate

Gifts for Yourself

While it’s fun to shop for Valentine’s Day gifts for all your friends and everyone you love, don’t forget to show yourself some self-love on this holiday. The garden center has great gift options for a little treat you can enjoy, including…

  • New tools engineered for better ergonomics and comfortable use
  • Plants and seeds to add to the variety in your garden and flowerbeds
  • Decorative solar lights and other colorful accents to spice up your garden space
  • Pots, planters and containers to expand your growing area
  • Seed starting materials setups so you can put that caring spirit to use, even in the winter

Valentine Gifts to Give Your Garden

While you’re shopping for everyone on your Valentine’s Day list, don’t forget your garden. It gives you joy and pleasure all year long, from the first sprouts and blooms of spring to your autumn harvest, and even through the winter with preserved herbs and canned fruits and vegetables as well as outdoor visual interest. As you start planning your spring gardening chores around Valentine’s Day, mid-February is a great time to pick up gifts to “give” your garden, including…

  • Proper fertilizer for the needs of different herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers
  • Pesticides to keep unwanted garden visitors away and protect your plants
  • A ladybug house to attract beneficial insects to help your garden grow
  • Different types of mulch to control weeds and preserve moisture in your garden
  • New hoses, drip systems and other irrigation tools to keep your garden well-watered
  • Row covers and other shelter to protect your garden against frosts, birds and deer

No matter what your garden needs, you can show it how much you love every plant, path and corner with Valentine gifts from the garden center. Even with every gift you give others on Valentine’s Day, you can share your love of gardening and encourage everyone to enjoy more time in the garden, courtesy of a well-stocked garden center.

Seed Starting and Companion Planting

Saturday, February 17, 1:00 pm

Get a head start on planning your spring and summer garden. Learn about  companion planting and learn different methods for seed starting. At the end of the class you’ll receive a small seed starting tray and some seeds to start.

A $10.00 nonrefundable fee due at registration.

Click here to register.