New England

February, 2009
Regional Report

Repot Houseplants

As the days begin to grow longer and brighter, houseplants will resume growth. Now is a good time to repot any houseplants with roots coming out of the drainage holes. Choose a pot an inch or so larger in diameter than the current container. Then remove the plant, trim any overly long or circling roots, and repot using fresh potting soil.

Root Geranium Cuttings

Geraniums that you overwintered indoors are probably getting tall and leggy by now. Take 4- to 6-inch cuttings, strip off the bottom set of leaves, dip the cut end in rooting hormone powder, and stick the cuttings in a pot filled with moistened potting soil. Keep the soil moist, and they should root in a few weeks.

Watch for Whiteflies

Houseplants such as hibiscus and geraniums (Pelargonium) are often attached by whiteflies. The adults are tiny, white, mothlike insects that will rise in a flutter when a plant is moved. The immature forms live on the undersides of leaves and suck the plant's juices. If left unchecked, they can cause leaf dieback. Spray plants with insecticidal soap to control them.

Start Leeks and Onions

Plant leek and onion seed indoors now. They need 10 to 12 weeks of growth before they go in the garden. Sprinkle the seed on top of seed-starting mix, keep it moist, and as soon as the seedlings emerge, place the flats under grow lights so they grow strong.

Plant in Cold Frames

As soon as the ground thaws and dries in your cold frame, work the soil, add compost, and plant cold-loving greens crops such as arugula and kale. The seeds will germinate in the cold soil and within 4-6 weeks provide the first early spring greens of the season. Sprinkle the seed throughout the cold frame and eat the thinnings as they grow.

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