New England

December, 2004
Regional Report

Removing Snow from Branches

Snowfalls can be tough on trees and shrubs by weighing down the branches. Gently brush off most of the snow with a broom or by hand. Don't use a shovel, which can injure the branches. If there's ice buildup, it's best to let it melt because it's easy to break off the brittle branches if you try to remove it.

Keep Off the Grass

If Mother Nature hasn't blessed you with snow cover on your lawn, don't walk on the frozen grass. Without the protection of snow, grass blades are easily broken, causing dieback in your lawn that will show up next spring. Put up flagging or stakes in sensitive areas to keep visitors on the path.

Control Spider Mites on Houseplants

Many houseplants, including palms and cyclamen, are attacked by spider mites this time of year. They are microscopic creatures that suck plant juices, causing the leaves to look speckled or silvery. To scout for these pests, mist the plants lightly; if mites are present, the water droplets will cling to the mites' fine webbing. Control them by misting plants daily to keep the humidity high (spider mites love dryness) and by spraying plants with insecticidal soap.

Increase Indoor Humidity

Dry indoor air can cause houseplant leaves to shrivel up and turn brown. A humidifier does the best job of putting moisture into the air, but at the very least your plants will need some misting. If you have the space, place pots on a tray filled with pebbles and keep water in the tray just below the top of the pebbles. You want the pots to sit just above the water, not in it.

Don\'t Overwater

Even though plants benefit from an increase in indoor humidity, the reduced light causes slower growth, and some plants may even be in a period of dormancy. Take care not to overwater because many plants are more easily killed from too much water than too little. Feel the soil, and water only when it\'s dry an inch or two deep.

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