Upper South

January, 2004
Regional Report

Clean and Repair Gardening Accessories

Garden furniture, trellises, window boxes, planters, and other items brought in from the outdoors for storage should be cleaned and repaired. If painting or staining is necessary, make sure you have warm enough temperatures and good ventilation. Make an assessment of what you need for the coming year, then consider whether to buy or build the items yourself.

Keeping Cyclamen Happy

Cyclamen are among the flowering houseplants readily available during winter. Both miniature and larger plants bear the unique "windswept" flowers in shades of pink or white. To grow and keep blooming, cyclamen need temperatures as cool as possible in the home environment. Plenty of humidity is also a requirement. Stand the pot on pebbles kept moist or place the pot inside a larger one, filling the space in between with sphagnum moss kept constantly moist.

Make Labels

Most purchased plants come with plastic labels, but these seldom last more than a season. Use the winter months to develop a labeling system for your garden. A good label should be relatively inconspicuous, easy to read, and as permanent as possible. Tie-on metal labels work well on trees and shrubs, but perennials and bulbs are better served with metal labels that are pushed into the ground.

Watch for Frost-Heaved Plants

The alternate periods of freezing and thawing during the winter can result in plants -- especially perennials -- being heaved out of the ground. Take a periodic walk around the garden to see if this has occurred. If so, gently push the plant back into the ground (stomping can injure roots), then cover with a protective mulch of straw, salt hay, or evergreen branches.

Bring Bulbs Indoors

Spring-blooming bulbs that were potted up last fall for forcing into bloom should be brought into warmth and light now. Most bulbs need a cold period of at least eight weeks, so check to make sure they've had enough time. Forced bulbs produce the sturdiest, longest-lasting blooms if they are kept at about 50 to 65 degrees F.

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