New England

February, 2002
Regional Report

Cover Frost-Heaved Bulbs and Perennials

Fluctuating winter temperatures and alternating freeze/thaw cycles in early spring can heave perennials and bulbs out of the ground. If this happens, drying winds and extreme temperatures may damage exposed roots. Keep an eye out for frost-heaved plants and bulbs, and immediately cover them with mulch or evergreen boughs leftover from the holidays.

Control Spider Mites

Warm, dry, indoor air in winter can lead to problems with spider mites on houseplants. The mites themselves are barely visible to the eye, so look for the symptoms they cause -- stippling on leaves and fine webbing on new growth. They attack many houseplants, including cyclamen and crotons. Spray the plants with insecticidal soap two to three times a week to kill the mites, making sure to spray the undersides of the leaves as well as the tops.

Fragrant Bouquets

Although roses are considered the classic Valentine\\\'s Day flowers, many long-stemmed roses have little or no fragrance. Instead of, or along with, roses, consider fragrant flowers, such as freesias, tuberose, or Oriental lilies -- especially white \\\'Casablanca\\\' or pink \\\'Stargazer\\\'. These long-lasting flowers are not only beautiful, they also will perfume the room with their heady fragrance.

Order Grapes

Now is the time to order bare-root fruit plants, such as grapes. Be sure to check your USDA hardiness zone before choosing varieties. In general, the wine-making Vinifera types, such as Chardonnay, are less winter hardy than the fresh eating grapes, such as Concord, and should be planted only in areas with 170 frost-free days. For fresh eating grapes, the seedless varieties, such as Reliance, tend to be less hardy than the seeded varieties, such as Valiant.

Preserve Your Cherished Bouquet

Enjoy the beauty of cut flower bouquets by drying the flowers. Although flowers can simply be hung upside-down or placed on racks to air dry, there are more elaborate methods that will better preserve the color and shape of the flowers. Tulips, daffodils, freesias, lilies, and cannas, for example, can all be dried using silica gel. Be sure to dry the flowers when they are at their peak of color and form.

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