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Growing Moth Orchids and Other January Gardening Tips

By Charlie Nardozzi, Senior Horticulturist , National Gardening Association, and Dr.
Leonard Perry, Extension Professor, University of Vermont
Growing moth orchids, taking an inventory of seed starting supplies, and
starting greens are some of the gardening activities for this month.

Moth Orchids

When in flower, moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) need consistent temperatures of
above 60 degrees at night and above 70 during the day. In New England, a
south window in winter is not too much light, whereas it would be too much in

Fertilize with a dilute liquid orchid fertilizer (high phosphorous, low nitrogen).
Let the soil dry out somewhat between waterings but not get completely dry.
The flowers can be damaged by gas from a stove, cigarette smoke, and other
chemicals in the air. If buds drop before opening, raise the humidity with a
room humidifier or by grouping plants together on top of pebbles in a tray
with water up to the bottom of the pebbles.
Take Inventory

Take inventory of trays, pots, and six-packs from past years and discard any
that are cracked. Reduce risk of disease by washing them, then soaking for 20
minutes in a solution of 10 percent bleach and water (9 parts water to one part
bleach), then air dry.

Start Early Spring Greens

If you have a set of grow lights, you can grow mesclun or other quick-growing
greens to add to early-spring salads. Fill a tray with moistened seed-starting
mix and sow seeds thickly, then cover with one-quarter inch of soil and mist the
surface. Don't let the surface dry out. As soon as the first seeds germinate, keep
the lights about 4 inches above the tray.
Grow Sprouts

You can start your own sprouts for salads easily, buying seeds for this at
garden stores or online from catalogs.  You can buy special sprouting trays that
stack, or simply sprout in a jar covered with cheesecloth.  Moisten seeds
overnight, then drain and place in containers.  Rinse and drain daily.  Many
seeds can be used such as beans and peas, mustard and other similar greens,
grains such as wheat, grasses such as oats, lettuce, and even onions and their
Check Grow Light Bulbs

Whether you use warm-white and cool-white fluorescent tubes or special plant
lights to start seedlings, they lose light intensity after a year or two and ideally
should be replaced. If you feel it's hard to justify buying new lights that often,
consider all the time and effort you're spending on starting plants. Without
adequate light, your seedlings will grow spindly and will be less productive in
the garden, and you won't get the most out of your efforts.  Look for darkening
at the ends of the tubes, a sign they are losing intensity.
Care for Potted Forced Bulbs

Potted forced bulbs may need watering so check on them soon. They should be
removed from their cold treatment when they are well rooted and shoots have
begun to grow.  This is usually 10 to 12 weeks from the time they were potted
and placed in the cold.
Outside: Care for Trees & Shrub Branches

When tree and shrub branches bend under the weight of a new snowfall, use a
broom to gently brush off the snow. Don't try to remove ice or you might break
the branch. It's possible to save a branch that partially splits from the main
trunk if you tie it in place and use long screws (coming from each direction, if
necessary) to secure it. If done right away, the tree may callous over the wound
and heal itself next season.
Moth Orchid