New England

February, 2010
Regional Report

Give Fragrant Bouquets

Although roses are considered the classic for a Valentine's Day bouquet, many long-stemmed roses have little or no fragrance. Instead of (or along with) roses, consider fragrant flowers, such as freesias, tuberose, or Oriental lilies. These long-lasting flowers are not only beautiful, they will also perfume the room with their heady fragrance.

Care for Amaryllis

With some care you can coax your amaryllis to bloom again next year. Cut back the flower stalk (but not the leaves) and continue watering and fertilizing the bulb. In summer, place the pot outdoors in a protected environment. In fall, bring it indoors and let the leaves die back and the bulb go dormant. In November, start watering again, and it may bloom again in the winter.

Start Onions

Long-season alliums, such as leeks and onions, should be started from seed now. Unlike the quickly growing broccoli and tomatoes, onions need 10 to 12 weeks of growth indoors 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.

Observe Sun Patterns

Observe sun and shade patterns in your yard. In mid-winter, the sun is at its lowest angle; areas in full sun in mid-summer may be in shade in winter, and part shade in spring and fall. Make note of the changing sun/shade patterns in a journal to help you choose the right plants for each site.

Control Spider Mites

Warm, dry indoor air in winter can lead to problems with spider mites on houseplants. The mites themselves are barely visible to the eye, so look for the symptoms they cause -- stippling on leaves and fine webbing on new growth. Spray the plants with insecticidal soap two to three times a week to kill the mites, making sure to spray the undersides of the leaves as well as the tops.

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