Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Middle South

February, 2001
Regional Report

Make a Propagation Bed

If you need a place to put extra plants until you decide where to plant them, enclose a raised bed with wooded sides and fill it half and half with sand and peat moss - and you have the perfect place to "hold" pieces of divided perennials or stem cuttings you're trying to root.

Fertilize Houseplants

The fact that each day now provides two more minutes of daylight than the one before is not going unnoticed by houseplants. They are waiting for a little fertilizer and will show a spurt of spring growth if you apply it now. Any all-purpose houseplant food is fine for foliage plants, but use a high-phosphorus product for those houseplants that bloom, such as cyclamen.

Prune Trees

This is the ideal time to saw low branches from shade trees, except for birches and maples, which tend to bleed sap when pruned in spring. Approach fruit trees artistically, pruning as needed to give the trees a strong structure in keeping with their natural shape. Always remove dead, broken, and diseased branches in any tree you're pruning.

Create a Cold Frame

When devising temporary quarters for plants that need to get used to life outdoors, consider building a cold frame. A cold frame can be a wooden, brick, or even hay- bale box with a glass or plexiglass lid. It can be used for starting warm-season flowers and vegetables when the outdoor temperatures are still cool, as well as for hardening-off plants.

Start Seeds Indoors

Set up a tabletop greenhouse, complete with a grow light that you can adjust so that it's always about 2 inches above the tops of seedling plants. Use a sterile soilless mix to start seeds of cool-season flowers such as petunias as well as special varieties of tomatoes and peppers that you won't be able to find as bedding plants locally.


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