Pacific Northwest

January, 2005
Regional Report

Removing Snow from Shrubs

If you're concerned about the weight of snow on evergreen branches, use a broom or rake to gently brush away most of the snow. Start at the bottom of a shrub and work up, being careful not to break any frozen branches. Trees and shrubs with strong branching structures will shed the weight of snow naturally. If in doubt, leave the snow.

Prune Deciduous Trees

The winter dormant season is one of the best times to prune out dead, damaged, or unwanted branches on deciduous trees. Remove crossing branches that may be rubbing each other, as well as weak branches that may break in windstorms or under the weight of snow.

Keeping Indoor Plants Healthy

Be sure to keep your indoor plants and any newly acquired flowering houseplants away from trouble spots, such as heating vents, fireplaces, and frequently opened entry doors. Forced air heat can quickly dry out plants and is often responsible for browning leaf margins. Temperature fluctuations also can cause houseplants to develop yellow leaves, or suddenly drop their leaves.

Watch for Indoor Plant Pests

It\'s important to monitor indoor plants for insect pests, especially aphids. These pests consider the indoor environment a perpetual spring and can reproduce in alarming numbers. Look for these tiny insects on the undersides of leaves and on stems, and also check for the sticky honeydew they secrete on the upper sides of leaves. Spray them off foliage with a lukewarm water and soap mixture: use a few drops of mild, liquid hand soap in an 8-ounce spray bottle filled with water. Repeating this treatment as necessary will help your houseplants remain pest-free.

Clean and Sanitize Seed-starting Containers

Before you start your seeds indoors, take time to scrub your old trays and containers with a 10 percent bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water). This treatment will help prevent seedling diseases. For the healthiest seedlings, it's also important to use fresh, sterile growing media.

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