Pacific Northwest

February, 2010
Regional Report

Caring for Indoor Geraniums

If you're overwintering your geraniums indoors, they're probably getting tall and leggy due to the reduced light. Now is a good time to cut them back to about a foot tall. Save a few 4- to 6-inch pieces and root them by dipping the cut ends in rooting hormone and then placing them in a pot filled with peat moss and sand. Keep the pot out of direct light while the cuttings take root, which should be in a few weeks. When new growth appears, you'll know your cuttings have rooted.

Dealing with Precocious Bulbs

Hardy spring bulbs march to their own musing, sending up shoots when weather seems much too cold. I always worry about the 3-inch daffodil shoots and blooming crocuses when a cold snap hits, but if mulch remains around them, they are remarkably resistant to cold temperatures. With mulch for root protection, these plants will manage well, stopping their growth during cold spells and reviving during warmth. The only action you need to take if a serious freeze is predicted is to place 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch around any shoots that are exposed.

Avoid Critter Damage

Watch for field mice damage on lower trunks of trees and shrubs, and avoid additional damage by controlling weeds to remove hiding places, reinforcing any wire caging or plastic tree wraps placed around the trunks, and keeping mulch materials a few inches away from trunks.

Propagate Houseplants

Propagate split-leaf philodendrons and other leggy indoor plants by air layering. Here's how: Make a slanting cut about 1/4 of the way through the stem with a sharp knife. Insert a toothpick to keep the wound from healing over. Dust the wound with rooting hormone powder. Wrap the wounded area with moist sphagnum moss and cover it with plastic wrap to keep the rooting medium from drying out. When roots form, cut the new plant off and pot it up.

Start Tomato Seeds Indoors

Sow tomato seeds indoors now so they'll be ready to transplant outdoors as soon as the soil warms. Start with clean seed-starting trays and moistened seed-starting mix and make rows of furrows about an inch apart and quarter-inch deep across the top of the mix. Sprinkle seeds into the furrows, spacing them about a half-inch apart. Barely cover seeds with additional potting soil, then cover the trays with plastic wrap. Place your trays in a warm location until seeds germinate. Remove the plastic wrap and place the trays under a source of artificial light.

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