Thursday, February 2, 2012

Early February Gardening Tips in Skillin's Country!

Good gardening friend Hammon Buck of Plants Unlimited sent out some neat gardening tips this past week and I thought I would share a couple tips with you all. Plants Unlimited is a great garden center located in Rockport ME and also at Check out their store and their website!

Hammon gives some great advice about Taking Geranium Cuttings:

"Many gardeners keep Geraniums all winter so that they can make cuttings to multiply their plants. Geraniums root readily from cuttings and can be done in late January or February. To take a cutting, remove a 3- to 4-inch section of the plant's stem tip with a sharp knife. Pinch off the leaves from the lower half of the cutting and dip the cut end into a rooting hormone. Rooting hormones are sold in powder or liquid form at Plants Unlimited. (Also at Skillin's Greenhouses!)

Geranium Cuttings--a Great Way to Overwinter Geraniums and to Start a New Cycle of Life!

Stick the cuttings in a moist, porous, well-drained rooting media such as coarse sand, perlite, or vermiculite. (I have had success using Pro Mix as well). Cuttings can be rooted in individual pots or several cuttings can be placed per container. Make sure the container has holes for drainage. Ideally, cuttings root best in a moist, humid environment. This is easy to achieve by securing a clear plastic bag over the cuttings and container. This "mini-greenhouse" should be placed in bright, but indirect light. Check the media occasionally to insure it remains evenly moist.

Rooting normally occurs in 6 to 8 weeks. After roots are approximately 1-inch long, transplant cuttings into a 3- to 4-inch container with a standard well-drained potting soil. Place in a sunny window and water as needed. Pinch shoot tips back to force branching and prevent spindly growth. New plants produced from cuttings should be vigorous and about the same size as most geraniums sold in spring.

Hammon moves on to give us a Few Hosta Facts:

"Hosta leaves come in four main colors: blue, green, yellow, and white. Color combinations are also important. The leaves can have different shapes as well as margin colors different from the center color. The leaves can have wide irregular margins or very distinct but thin margins. The spring color also may not be stable all season long. The leaf surface can be flat, curled, cupped, wavy, contorted, piecrust, or furrowed. Flat surfaces have even and smooth features. A rugose leaf has uneven features such as dimpled, puckered, embossed, ruffled, pleated, wrinkled, and crinkled leaf surfaces. Cupped leaf surfaces are cupped around the margins. Wavy leaves are relatively smooth but wave or undulate along the margins. Contorted leaves are warped, or distorted. Piecrust leaves have closely spaced, distinct, regular, undulations along the margins. Furrowed leaves show the veins sunken or impressed, creating a ribbed effect.

Hosta Blue Cadet--One of Our Favorites!

There has been a great deal of debate over where particular hostas will do best. Pick out a shady spot that is protected from hot afternoon sun. The most common mistake made by newbies (new Hosta lovers) is thinking that all Hosta do best in full shade. This is not the case. Hostas are shade tolerant which means that they will do well in varying degrees of shade, yet still like some sun. If possible, try to avoid full afternoon sun. Some hostas, such as H. plantaginea, will tolerate sunnier conditions. Frequent watering will help a Hosta survive more direct sunlight than it normally would tolerate. "

It has not been really really cold in Skillin's Country but nevertheless the cold weather is when the birds need the rich protein and other nutrients that good quality birds can give them. Our feathered friends are feeding with frequency. They are hungry; so keep your bird feeders full and the food dry. (Birds are turned off by wet food and will not eat it). We have the best in food choices here at Skillin's. I am currently filling my feeders with Wild Delight's Nut and Berry Food. This is a great quality food that features plentiful portions of Nuts and Berrys (awesome food choices for cold weather for the birds) and also is packed with plenty of sunflower. These are the best of food options for our feathered friends in these cold times!

I am not growing grapes in my own yard but I do know that a lot of you fellow gardeners are. Many gardening sites I am checking out remind us that February is the time to prune your vines to no more than about 4 fruiting canes and down to about 10 buds or so. Grapes need to be pruned sharply!

The light is getting to be a much better quality and so far this winter I have not fed my houseplants. That is about to change as I am about to give them a good dosage of organic "Dynamite" a pelletized slow release fertilizer that will give my houseplants a good boost and will help them thrive during our longer and brighter days!

Later on this month will be a great time to prune forsythia, flowering cherry or other flowering branches (look for bud swelling outdoors for better results) and then to bring them indoors for some fantastic flowering. Smash or mash the cut ends and put in water in a vase and soon you will have flower buds and then real flowers! Indoors in the wintertime! It takes the branches some time to activate so you can keep them in a bucket with water in a mudroom or warmer garage before you put them in a vase if you would like!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
February 2, 2012

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