Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Northern & Central Midwest

February, 2004
Regional Report

Bring a Little Spring Indoors by Forcing Branches

Cut stems of serviceberry, magnolia, flowering quince, forsythia, apple, cherry, spring witchhazel, redbud, and even red maple. Immerse the entire stems in warm water for half an hour, make clean diagonal cuts, and put them in a vase with cool water. Change the water every three or four days.

Take Care When Removing Snow From Plants

If woody plants become ice covered, wait for the ice to melt instead of trying to remove it. Otherwise, you may injure the branches. When evergreens become weighed down with snow, take a broom or rake and gently lift the branches up to shake. This will prevent injury.

Be Patient With Early-Sprouting Bulbs

When bulbs begin to sprout during warm spells, don't worry about losing your flower display. The leaves come up first, and although they may be injured by subsequent freezes, the flower buds don't begin to show until almost a month after the leaves. A few tattered leaves won't detract from the overall display.

Provide Supplemental Light for Houseplants

If houseplants begin to show signs of stress from lack of light in winter, you might consider giving them supplemental light. Use fluorescent lights placed 12 to 18 inches from the top of the plant. Set the lights on timers to give plants 14 to 16 hours of light a day.

Be Ready to Transplant Seedlings

As your vegetable and flower seeds sprout, be sure to keep an eye out for development of the first set of true leaves. This means time to transplant. Move plants into well-drained soil in individual pots, and begin fertilizing with one-quarter strength plant food. Keep light source no higher than 6 inches above the plants.


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