Floral Designer's Plant of the Month
Flowering Trees and Shrubs
Good candidates for forcing include:
Apricot (Prunus mume)
In the Triangle, celebrate spring early by bringing branches of flowering shrubs and trees inside to force the blooms.
Cut the stems. Once you bring the branches inside, submerge and recut stem ends under water. Plunge freshly cut ends in a clean full bucket of water. Place the branch-filled bucket in a cool spot, such as a garage or porch. Allow stems to fully hydrate; it will only take a few hours.
Use the stems to create spectacular indoor arrangements. Add the cut stems, and watch buds swell and burst into bloom. Change the water weekly or whenever it's cloudy. You can also include colorful twigs from dogwoods or willows, especially as you have to prune them now anyway.
Checklist for the Garden
• As weather permits, cut back liriope and ornamental grasses before new growth begins. Liriope can be cut back with a line trimmer. Use sharp shears for ornamental grasses.
• On a sunny day, get out and prune summer blooming plants such as crepe myrtle and butterfly bush that bloom on new wood. But keep feet off the lawns and out of beds. Mucking around in mud wrecks the soil. You can wait a bit longer to cut back twig willows and dogwoods so you can continue to enjoy the show.
• Roses. Get roses in the ground now so they'll be established before hot weather arrives. Choose bare-root roses.
• Veggies. Plant potatoes, onions, lettuce, spinach and peas the end of the month.
• Trees. Add trees to your landscape this month.
• Bedding plants. Set out cool-season annuals that tolerate frost: Lobelia, Pansy, Dianthus, and Snapdragon are all good options.
• Take photos of spring flowering bulbs so you know where to plant next year.
• Clean out old bird nests in birdhouses and clean birdbaths and feeders.
• February is the official kick off of the spring flower show season. Make plans to attend a show in your area or travel to one of the big events such as the Philadelphia Flower Show.