The Countdown to Spring. Starting Seeds, Bulbs and Forcing Flowering Shrubs.
Always check the date on seed packets before you make your purchase. The sell-by date ensures that the seeds are fresh and will germinate successfully. It is important to read seed package instructions carefully as each variety of plant will have its own specific needs. Different plants and vegetables have different maturity requirements and this information will be listed on the seed packet. Seeds which should be started in March include Asters, Carnation, Dianthus, Dusty Miller, Nicotiana, Pansy, Phlox, Portulaca, Salvia, Snapdragon, Celery, Eggplant, and Peppers. You can wait until early April before starting Castor Bean, Celosia, Dahlia, Marigold, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Cucumber, tomatoes, watermelon and Onion.
Branches of spring flowering trees and shrubs can be cut and forced into bloom indoors. Wait for the flower buds to begin swelling and then harvest the branches with a pair of sharp pruners. Choose branches at random from all parts of the plant to maintain the natural shape. As soon as the branches are cut they should be placed in water. Treat branches like any cut flower and keep the vase full of clean water. Keep branches away from hot air vents and heat sources to prolong the life of the blooms. A short list of branches which are easy to force indoors includes: Forsythia, Camellia, Redbud, Dogwood, Flowering Cherry, Crabapple, Witch Hazel and Pussy Willow. Once a pussy willow branch has produced its catkins (fuzzy flowers) you have two options. If you remove the branch from water it will dry and can be used in everlasting arrangements. The second option is to leave the branch in water and allow the catkins to mature and fall off. You will see new leaves emerge and the branches will take root. Plant your new pussy willow outdoors once the danger of frost has passed.
A Reminder that Canada Blooms comes to Toronto, Direct Energy Centre March 16 to 20th. Get your discounted tickets on line at http://www.canadablooms.com/