New England

January, 2008
Regional Report

Clean Seed-Starting Trays

Take inventory of trays, pots, and six-packs from past years and discard any that are cracked. Reduce risk of disease by soaking them in a solution of 10 percent bleach and water, then air dry.

Spray Dormant Oil

When a break in the cold brings temperatures above 40 degrees, it's a good time to spray dormant oil on landscape plants infested with scale and other overwintering pests. The oil will smother the insects.

Look for Frost-Heaved Perennials

In the absence of snow cover, perennials can heave up out of the soil and expose their roots to drying winds. Mound up mulch around the crowns or gently ease them back into the soil. You can damage the crowns if you step on them.

Get Pruning Tools Ready

You'll want to get to your pruning tools in February and March for dormant-season pruning, so dig them out and clean them up if you didn't get that chore done in the fall. Disassemble hand pruners, loppers, and shears; sharpen the blades, oil the levers, and remove any rust. Pruning trees will go much faster and be easier on your hands and on the plants if you use sharp, well-maintained equipment.

Keeping Moth Orchids Flowering

When in flower, moth orchids (phalaenopsis) need consistent temperatures of above 60 degrees at night and above 70 during the day. In New England, a south window in winter is not too much light, whereas it would be too much in summer. Fertilize with a dilute liquid orchid fertilizer (high phosphorous, low nitrogen). Let the soil dry out somewhat between waterings but not get completely dry. The flowers can be damaged by gas from a stove, cigarette smoke, and other chemicals in the air. If buds drop before opening, raise the humidity with a room humidifier or by grouping plants together on top of pebbles in a tray with water up to the bottom of the pebbles.

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