Middle South

January, 2006
Regional Report

Recycle Christmas Trees

Many municipalities will chip old Christmas trees and allow residents to use the resulting mulch. Or you could prop the tree in the yard and hang suet or other bird feeders from the branches. You'll be helping your feathered friends, and you'll be able to enjoy the show for months.

Control Spider Mites on Houseplants

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

Care for Amaryllis

With some tending you can coax your amaryllis into bloom again next year. Cut back the flower stalk after flowering (but not the leaves) and continue watering and fertilizing the bulb. In summer, place the pot outdoors in a protected environment. In fall, bring it indoors and let the leaves die back and the bulb go dormant. In November, start watering again, and it may bloom again next winter.

Inventory Seed-Starting Supplies

Now is a good time to take inventory of your gardening supplies for this year's seed starting. Check quantities of potting soil, containers, labels, markers, etc. If you grow seedlings under fluorescent bulbs, consider replacing them if they are a few years old. Light intensity diminishes as the bulbs age. Sterilize any used containers with a 10 percent bleach solution.

Keep Poinsettias Growing

Now that the holidays are over you can still enjoy your poinsettia for a few more weeks. Place the plant in the sunniest window in a cool (65 degrees F) spot in the house. Keep it out of cold drafts from doors, and water only when the soil is absolutely dry. Begin fertilizing again in spring.

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