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Calendar: February 1, 2011

Chrysanthemum 'My Favorite.' Julie Weisenhorn.
  • Why not give a blooming plant, rather than cut flowers for Valentine's Day this year? Choices can range from inexpensive African violets, chrysanthemums, or miniature roses to large azaleas and exotic orchids. Their flowers will last much longer than bouquets of floral arrangements, and with continued care, many can be grown as houseplants and made to re-bloom. Wrap the plant well, then place it in a good-sized plastic bag to trap warm air before putting it in a pre-warmed car to bring to your valentine.

  • Assemble equipment you'll need to start seeds indoors: pots, trays, fluorescent lights that can be raised or lowered, a timer, and, for best results, a heating device to put under containers of germinating seeds. help avoid diseases by using fresh potting soil that drains readily, along with tools and containers that are clean or disinfected. Cool, soggy growing conditions and poor air circulation also favor disease development.

  • Improve your winter landscape by adding plants to your garden and landscape next spring. Spruce, pines, and fir trees are obvious choices, but consider ornamental grasses and other tall perennials that can stand up to the snow. Shrubs such as red twig and and flowering dogwoods add color, as do many flowering crabapples that hold their fruit all winter.
Be sure to visit the U of M Extension - Garden website for more ideas to beat the winter blues!
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