Rocky Mountains

January, 2004
Regional Report

Check for Moisture Needs

We often forget about our lawns during the cold winter months. If you have lawn areas on a slope in full sunny exposures, check the soil for moisture. Without snow cover, turf grasses can suffer severe winter desiccation, and the result will be winter kill in the spring. Set a sprinkler to water dry areas of your lawn during the balmy days of winter in the Rockies.

Cleaning Houseplants

If it's been a month or more, it's time to clean houseplant leaves of dust and pet hair. For smooth leaves of tropical plants, use two pieces of strong paper towel, dampened. Hold one under the leaf while you rub the upper side of the leaf. Avoid spraying foliage with leaf-shine materials since they are likely to attract more dust and dander. To remove pet hair from leaves, use a zip-strip lint picker-upper. This is especially useful to remove cat hair if your cats share the windowsill with your houseplants.

Bathe Foundation Plants

Hose down foundation plants, especially evergreens that are growing close to the house. Tiny clover mites are living in the protection of the foliage and branches. If they haven't already found their way indoors, mites will actively try to invade your home searching for warmth. They're not harmful to plants, but they create a nuisance. Use the vacuum cleaner to remove any that make it into the house.

Avoid Salt Around Plantings

Avoid the use of salt to melt ice on walks and driveways. Salt runoff from walkways can stunt or kill plants. Use sand, cat litter, or even fertilizer for better traction. Use only a handful of fertilizer, however; too much can harm plant roots.

Light Your Seedlings

If you plan to grow seedlings indoors, use cool white fluorescent lights to provide a good light source and keep the stems from growing long and leggy. Cost is economical, in the $10 to $20 range. Place the fixtures so the fluorescent light tubes are about 4 inches above the emerging seedlings. Keep the lights on for 14 to 16 hours a day.

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