Mid-Atlantic

December, 2003
Regional Report

Caring for Amaryllis

Save your amaryllis bulb from year to year. Trim off the bloom stalk when the flowers are done. Place it in a sunny window like a typical houseplant. Keep the soil moist but not wet, feed with water-soluble houseplant fertilizer. The more foliage it grows, the better it will rebloom next winter.

Protect Evergreens

Broadleaf evergreens, such as hollies and rhododendrons, may yellow in the winter due to excess sun and/or wind exposure. You can protect them with a shade barrier or windbreak made of burlap or snow fencing. Some gardeners also get good results using an anti-transpirant spray.

Order Seeds

What better way to spend a wintery afternoon than anticipating next summer's garden. If you plan to order flower and vegetable seeds, keep in mind that sometimes early birds really do get the worm: all too often popular new introductions and sometimes even tried and true varieties may sell out, so don't delay.

Raise Humidity

Most houseplants suffer in winter's dry indoor air. A shallow tray of pebbles and water helps humidify the area around your plants. Add a bit of bleach to control algae. Grouping plants together also helps, or keep them in the relatively humid kitchen or bath. Avoid drafts, too. If all else fails, consider a humidifier.

Deter Thieving Squirrels

Squirrels love bird seed. Thwart them by adding a baffle to your pole feeder and locate it out of jumping distance from trees and buildings. Another option is to use a spring-weighted feeder that snaps shut when the squirrel perches on it. Make sure your feeder is made of chew-proof metal.

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