Middle South

January, 2005
Regional Report

Replant Frost-Heaved Bulbs and Perennials

Fluctuating winter temperatures and alternating freeze/thaw cycles in early spring can \"heave\" perennials and bulbs out of the ground. If this happens, drying winds and extreme temperatures may damage exposed roots. Keep an eye out for frost-heaved plants and bulbs, and immediately replant them, or at least mound up soil around exposed roots. To minimize frost heaving, in late fall after the ground has frozen, cover beds with a lightweight mulch or evergreen boughs.

Control Spider Mites

Warm, dry indoor air in winter can lead to problems with spider mites on houseplants. The mites themselves are barely visible to the eye, so look for the symptoms they cause -- stippling on leaves and fine webbing on new growth. They attack many houseplants, including cyclamen and croton. Spray the plants with insecticidal soap 2 to 3 times a week to kill the mites, making sure to spray the undersides of the leaves as well as the tops.

Make That a Fragrant Bouquet

Although roses are considered the classic flower for a Valentine's Day bouquet, many long-stemmed roses have little or no fragrance. Instead of, or along with, roses, consider fragrant flowers like freesias, tuberoses, or Oriental lilies. These long-lasting flowers are not only beautiful, they also will perfume the room with their heady fragrance.

Removed Damaged Limbs

If your trees and shrubs have damaged or broken limbs, you can safely remove these at any time. In general, it\'s best to wait to do routine maintenance pruning until the coldest weather has passed. But it\'s safe to remove damaged wood at any time. Prune damaged branches all the way back to a crotch, leaving the branch collar intact. Most arborists advise that there\'s no need to apply a wound dressing -- branches will heal by themselves.

Start Leeks

Long-season alliums, such as leeks, should be started from seed now. Unlike quick-growing broccoli and tomatoes, onions need 10 to 12 weeks of growth indoors before they go into the garden. Sprinkle the seed on top of seed-starting mix, keep it moist, and as soon as the seedlings emerge, place the flats under grow lights so they grow strong.

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