New England

March, 2010
Regional Report

Repot Your Houseplants

The longer days and increased light intensity of spring will soon prod your houseplants out of their winter doldrums. Now, just as they are about to enter a period of active growth, is a good time to repot them if their roots are getting crowded. Choose a new pot only slightly larger than the one in which the plant was growing. Water about an hour before you repot, so the soil is moist, but not sodden. If the plant was quite pot-bound, gently tease out some of the matted roots before setting the plant in its new home.

Start Annual Flowers From Seed

Start seedlings of annual flowers under lights or on a sunny windowsill. Many are best started 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your region, including nicotiana, ageratum, sweet alyssum, salpiglossis, rubeckia, cosmos and dwarf zinnias.

Pre-germinate Your Peas

Peas grow best when the weather is cool, but sometimes the seed can rot before it sprouts when the soil is still cold. Try pre-germinating your peas to get them off to a reliable start. Wrap the seeds in a moist paper towel and put them in a dark, warm place for a few days. Check daily and as soon as you see the tiny root begin to emerge, pop the seeds into their outdoor planting bed.

Clean Up Your Water Garden

As soon as the weather warms, begin to clear leaves and other organic debris from your pond or water garden. If you don't use a pump and filter in your pond, it's also a good time to add a supplemental bacterial product to speed the decomposition of waste from fish and plants, and prevent the growth of algae.

Spring Perennial Garden Care

If you didn't cut back your flowering perennials and ornamental grasses last fall, do so now to avoid damaging the new growth as it emerges. Rake the beds lightly , then sprinkle a slow-release organic fertilizer and scratch it into the soil. Wait until plants have started to come up, then renew the layer of mulch. Remember the location of slow starters like baptisia and butterfly weed (you marked their spots last fall, right?) so you don't dig them up by mistake.

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