New England

February, 2008
Regional Report

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.

Start Perennial Seeds

Some perennials, such as delphiniums, hollyhocks, and lupines, will flower the first year if you sow them very soon. Indoor lights are important for keeping the seedlings stocky and strong during their long indoor phase.

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.

Begin Fertilizing Houseplants

Now that the days are starting to get longer, your houseplants will be resuming vigorous growth, so begin fertilizing with a soluble fertilizer. A seaweed/fish emulsion blend is a good choice, but look for one labeled as "no odor" to avoid their usual pungent smell. You can fertilize monthly at the label's recommended dilution rate, or fertilize every time you water using a quarter-strength mix.

Warding Off Seedling Disease

Sphagnum moss can help prevent damping off of seedlings if you spread a thin layer on top of newly planted seeds. It's available in packages at nurseries and garden centers, and a little goes a long way.

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