Pacific Northwest

January, 2004
Regional Report

Clean Bird Feeders

Clean your bird feeders every few weeks to help prevent the spread of diseases. Be sure to keep the feeders filled with a fresh supply of seed, especially black oil sunflower seed. You can also keep our feathered friends healthy and happy with a supply of fresh water. Birdbaths can be kept from freezing by replacing the water on a daily basis, or placing a birdbath de-icer in the water.

Water Houseplants Carefully

Need for watering will vary with type of plant, size and kind of pot, proximity to heating vents, and the light and temperature conditions in your home. A good way to check whether your plant needs watering is to stick your finger into the potting soil, 1 to 2 inches deep. If the soil feels damp, you generally don't need to water.

Browse Through Catalogs

If you\'re looking for something new to plant in your garden, search through seed and nursery catalogs for the latest offerings. The new All America Selections (AAS) are grown and evaluated in public test gardens throughout the country and may be worth a try in your own garden. Order early-maturing varieties if your growing season is short.

Control Fungus Gnats

If your houseplants are swarming with those annoying little fungus gnats, you can reduce the population by removing the top half-inch of potting soil and replacing it with decorative gravel. The gnats feed on organic matter and are attracted to moist potting soil. A gravel barrier will keep the pests from feeding and reproducing. Yellow sticky traps placed near your plants should eliminate the remaining gnats.

Keep Indoor Plants Happy

Keep your indoor plants, including any newly acquired flowering houseplants, away from trouble spots, such as fireplaces, heat vents, or entry doors that are frequently opened. Forced air heat can rapidly dry out plants and is often responsible for brown leaf margins. Fluctuating temperatures also can cause leaf drop or yellowing leaves. Mist plants occasionally to counteract the effects of dry air.

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