HORTICULTURE — Garden guide: Things to do this month

By Mary Jane Frogge, Extension Associate, Lancaster Co.

Check all five growing factors if your houseplants are not growing well. Light, temperature, nutrients, moisture, and humidity must be favorable to provide good growth.

Prune fruit trees and grapes in late February or early March after the worst of the winter cold is passed but before spring growth begins.

Check any vegetables you have in storage. Dispose of any that show signs of shriveling or rotting.

Order perennial plants and bulbs now for cut flowers this summer. Particularly good choices are phlox, daisies, coreopsis, asters and lilies.

Order gladiolus corms now for planting later in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. Locate in full sun in well-drained soil.

Branches of forsythia, pussy willow, quince, spirea and dogwood can be forced for indoor bloom. Make long, slanted cuts when collecting the branches and place the stems in a vase of water. Change the water every 4 days. They should bloom in about 3 weeks.

Send off seed orders early this month to take advantage of seasonal discounts. Some companies offer bonus seeds of new varieties to early buyers.

Do not start your vegetable transplants indoors too early. Six weeks ahead of the expected planting date is early enough for the fast-growth species such as tomatoes. Eight weeks allows enough time for the slower-growing types such as peppers.

Check stored bulbs, tubers and corms. Discard any that are soft or diseased.

This year, plan to grow at least one new vegetable you have never grown before; it may be better than what you are already growing. The new dwarf varieties on the market which use less space while producing more food per square foot may be just what you are looking for.

Late February is a good time to air-layer such houseplants as dracaena, dieffenbachia and rubber plant, especially if they have grown too tall and leggy.