HAPPY 2012, EVERYONE! I took a stroll through the garden this morning, and what did I find? Well, I found April. As in 50 degrees. As in bulbs popping up. Even my Phlox subulata, above, had sported a pink New Year’s Day blossom. Is it strangely-warm where you live, too? You can let me know by leaving a comment. In the meantime, here’s my to-do list for January, which I somehow feel should include “open the swimming pool:”
Seeds. Order these from catalogs now, especially if you have specific colors or varieties of plants in mind. Among other things, I hope you’ll order Berlandiera lyrata, the “Chocolate Flower.” This bright yellow, cocoa-scented wonder will delight you all summer long. It’s a great plant to winter-sow.
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!
Forsythia. It’s not too early to force these branches. Cut sprays at varying lengths, mash the ends with a hammer, and submerge in a tub of cool water for several hours or overnight. Then arrange in a vase. In a bright but cool window, a brilliant bouquet of goldenrod-yellow will emerge in about 3 weeks time. I like to display forsythia with pink begonia semperflorens and purple and white primula obconica in my parlor window (above). More tips for forcing the branches of spring-flowering trees and shrubs.
African Violets. How these loathe the dry air that defines the heating season! To increase moisture, I set my plants on a humidifying tray of pebbles and water. Pictured above is the 2-inch deep galvanized “Boot” tray I painted to match the bookcase in my upstairs bath.
Amaryllis. Has the flower bud emerged on your new plant? If so, move it gradually to light and sun and heat (not more than 70F), 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. My amaryllis growing-guide.
Cyclamen. Take care that there is always water in the saucer (or bowl) beneath this plant. Provide food, too, if you intend to re-bloom the tuber next year.
Hardy Bulbs. If, in October, you potted tulips, hyacinths and other Dutch bulbs, you can bring them out of cold-storage now. That is, as long as they’ve received their required chilling period.
Poinsettia. To insure months of beauty, keep cool and just barely moist. How I grow and re-bloom my poinsettias.
Primroses. Fragrant malacoides and buxom obconica both require coolness and constant moisture. As with cyclamen, keep water in the saucer at all times. My favorite Primula for winter-bloom indoors.
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