New England

February, 2009
Regional Report

Protect Plants from Snowblower

When you are clearing your driveway with a snowblower this winter, direct the snow away from plants. Otherwise, the blowing ice crystals may damage the tender bark of young trees and shrubs. Or, alternatively, protect plants with a wrapping of burlap.

Grow Under Fluorescents

An indoor light garden will allow you to start your own seeds indoors, as well as grow all sorts of indoor plants. You can rig one up yourself by suspending a fluorescent light over a waterproof tray. Or, you can purchase light garden units that are attractive enough for the living room.

Remove Bulbs from Cold Storage

If you've placed some potted spring-flowering bulbs in cold storage for a winter rest, you can remove them when they've had 12 to 14 weeks of cold treatment. Bring the chilled pots into a 50- to 65-degree F room with bright, indirect light for about two weeks. The warmer the temperature, the shorter the flowering stems and the faster the bulbs will flower. When the bulb shoots are 2 inches tall, move the pots to a sunny 68-degree F location for flowering. The cooler the temperatures (60 degrees F is ideal at night), the longer the flowers will last.

Cut Flower Care

To prolong the vase life of cut flowers, recut the ends of roses and other flowers under water. Then place the flowers in a vase filled with warm water. Remove any foliage that's below water level and change the water every day, if possible. The cut flower preservatives from the florist are worth adding to the water, or you can make your own preservative by mixing 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon sugar, and1/4 teaspoon bleach per quart of warm water.

Clean Pruning Tools

Before heading out to the garden, take apart hand pruners and shears, sharpen the blades, oil the levers, and remove any rust. Pruning trees and shrubs will go much faster and be easier on your hands when you use sharp, well-maintained equipment.

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