I HOPE YOU’RE LOUNGING ON A BEACH IN THE BAHAMAS JUST NOW. Alas, I’m shivering in New York’s Hudson Valley, where nighttime temperatures are in the single digits. And get this — the National Weather Service says a foot of snow will arrive on Thursday. Good thing the January house and garden chores offer a hint of spring:
Seeds. Order these from catalogs now, especially if you have specific colors or varieties of plants in mind. I order most of my seeds from these reliable sellers.
Winter-Sowing. Plant your perennial and hardy annual seeds outdoors in containers now, and in spring you’ll have enough plants to furnish your entire neighborhood. This nifty method of seed-sowing is fun, fun, fun! The details.
Forsythia. It’s not too early to force the dormant stems. Cut sprays at varying lengths, mash the ends with a hammer, and then plunk them in a vase of water. Set before a bright but cool window, a bouquet of goldenrod-yellow will emerge in about 21 days. As pictured above, I like to display forsythia with pink Begonia semperflorens and purple and white Primula obconica in my parlor window.
Design a Window Garden. Outfit a window with glass shelves and a broad sill, and you can have all kinds of fun creating seasonal plant-pictures. The easy-peazy directions are here.
African Violets. As usual, I have way too many of these Saintpaulia ionantha. But they are perfect for the glass shelves of my window gardens, and their flowers make my smile. To ensure constant bloom, I care for the plants this way.
Amaryllis. Has the flower bud emerged on your new plant? If so, move it gradually to light and sun and heat (not more than 70°F, please), and increase water as need indicates. Check your older stored amaryllis for signs of growth. Then renew the top layer of soil and provide water. Keep cool and dim until the flower-stalk is about three inches high.
Zonal Geraniums (Pelargoniums). Place these in full sun, and they will flower with increasing frequency as the days lengthen. The pink and white zonals I propagated last August are now in various stages of bud and bloom. I encourage them with a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorous plant food.
Hardy Bulbs. Did you pot up a few tulips, hyacinths, or other “Dutch” bulbs last October? Bring them out of cold storage now, and place them in a sunny but cool window. And if you wish to save them for outdoor planting after their flowers fade, provide food and water until the foliage withers. More details.
Well. I hope the above list of chores has put an April bounce in your January step. Happy 2014, everyone!
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