Northern & Central Midwest

January, 2012
Regional Report

Bring Christmas Cactus Back to Bloom

After your Christmas cactus has finished blooming, give it a cool, dry rest period. After about six weeks, if you can expose it to about 45 degrees for a few days, you can force it into bloom again. Once the tiny flower buds are visible, bring it into the warmth and begin watering more.

Plan Your Seed Starting

Don't be too eager to start seeds or plants will become leggy. Put a planning calendar together. Figure the set-out dates for your transplants, count backwards to figure out the date you should plant your seeds indoors. You can also add outdoor seeding dates to the calendar to keep you on track.

Get Planting Supplies Ready

Get pots, markers, soil, and drip trays ready for seeding. Most garden centers start putting the materials on the shelves as soon as Christmas is over. Make sure all reused pots and flats are washed and disinfected with a ten-to-one water-to-bleach solution to avoid problems with damping off.

Start Worm Composting

Winter is the perfect time to start a worm composting system. There are many sites on the Internet with information to help with bin designs. You can purchase an elaborate system, or you can simply use a plastic bin with holes. Find a friend who will share worms.

Raise Humidity for Houseplants

Give your houseplants a humidity boost by setting the pots on a drip tray full of pebbles. Fill the tray with water to create a humid envelope around the plant. Use your imagination for what to fill the tray with -- shells, marbles, shellacked stones -- anything that is inert and cleanable.

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