Northern & Central Midwest

December, 2004
Regional Report

Start Your Pruning!

This time of year is perfect for starting a little light pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs since the leaves have fallen and you can see the plant shape easily. It's better to wait until late winter or early spring before bud break to do any heavy pruning.

Don't Forget Your Amaryllis Bulbs

Don't forget to bring your amaryllis bulbs into warmth and light to produce the spectacular blossoms. Remove about an inch of soil and replace with new soil. Begin watering, and be sure to turn your pot 1/4 turn every time you water to keep the stalk straight. Keep a stake handy.

Stake Fragrant Paper Whites

Paper white narcissus can be forced in water or soil. Plant them close together and use a cage or stakes to keep them upright as they grow. Don't be tempted to save the bulbs after blooming; they won't grow well again and should be discarded.

Leave Perennial Foliage Until Spring

Although you can cut back perennials to a few inches from the ground now, leaving the foliage through the winter tends to trap snow and provide good insulation for the plants. Foliage and seedheads add winter interest to the garden as well as food for animals and birds.

Choosing a Fresh Christmas Tree

Look for healthy, green needles with few brown ones. Run a branch through your hand and feel if the needles are still flexible. Lift the trunk a few inches and tap it on the ground. The tree may drop a few brown needles, but a fresh tree won't drop many green ones.

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