New England

February, 2005
Regional Report

Repot Houseplants

Now is a good time to repot any houseplants with roots coming out of the drainage holes. Choose a pot one size larger than the current pot, remove the plant, trim any errant roots, and repot using fresh potting soil.

Order Fruit Trees

Now is the time to order bare-root fruit trees. Bare-root trees are shipped in late winter or early spring before they start to grow. Trees will be shipped for planting time in your area, and they should be planted immediately upon arrival.

Check Grow Lights

If you start seeds under grow lights or fluorescent shop lights indoors, check the tubes for signs of age. Tubes that have been used for two to three seasons probably have lost much of their intensity even though they look fine. Dark rings on the ends of the tubes are a sign they need to be replaced.

Prune Fruit Trees

As soon as the buds start to swell, it\'s time to begin pruning apple, plum, and cherry trees. Plum trees should be pruned to an open center, while apple and cherry trees grow best pruned to a modified leader (center is more closed and tree is more upright). Remove any dead, diseased, or broken branches, as well as crossing branches and twiggy, nonproductive growth.

Cut Branches for Forcing

While you're pruning flowering trees, such as crab apple and plum, cut some 2-foot sections of pruned limbs with flower buds on them (flower buds are larger than leaf buds). The best way to hydrate the stems is to lay them down in a bathtub of water overnight. If anyone in your house objects, just recut the stems, place them in a bucket of warm water, and keep them in a cool place for a week or so. When flowers begin to open, bring them into your living room and your house will smell of spring even though the snow may still be flying outdoors.

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