10 February 2021
A Garden Tip from Helen...
Here we are, several snow days later, but there is promise right outside your door that spring is coming soon!!
Forcing Buds for February Blooms
Do you have a pussy willow in your yard? Or a forsythia, witch hazel, any magnolia or even a redbud? Any of these shrubs and trees are great for “forcing”, and for bringing some springtime cheer inside. Choose a day that is mild, not only for you, but to make the transition from outdoors to indoors a bit easier on the plant material. Use clean pruners and identify branches with lots of buds on them. Choose sections that are at least one foot long with plump flower buds. You will see leaf buds on branches also, but these are smaller and pointy at the tips. When deciding where to harvest, cut branches that are non-essential to the form of your shrub or tree, such as from a crowded section or at the back of the plant. Put the newly cut branches in a sturdy vessel full of warm water. The branches will get heavier as the buds open. Do not forget to cut on an angle. Many people also believe that making a second cut on the submerged portion of the branch or stem is a good idea. Regardless, keep the buds away from radiators and other heat sources, but place them in a warm, sunny spot in your home to speed up the blossoming process. Change the water every couple of days to impede bacterial growth.
The photos below are, of course, from my own yard. Take a cutting of the variegated acuba on the left. It's always nice to have something green in the house especially with the acuba's bright red berries! On the right is an exotic-looking paper bush, also known as Edgeworthia chrysantha, with its unusual winter blooms. And it smells good, too!
Below is a beautiful, silvery winter pussy willow. It certainly grows well in the yard. I need a ladder to reach the best branches on this one!
Rose Spring Prep
Also, do not forget to spray the roses to kill blackspot this month. Spray alternately every two weeks, first with horticultural oil, then with a couple tablespoons of baking soda and a drop of Dawn in a gallon of water.
Happy winter gardening,