Northern & Central Midwest

January, 2006
Regional Report

Prune When the Weather Permits

Take advantage of breaks in the weather to get out and do some light pruning. Don't prune spring-flowering trees until after they bloom in spring, though, or you will sacrifice the blossoms. The dormant season is the perfect time to prune oaks to avoid the risk of transmitting oak wilt.

Saving Your Poinsettia

To keep your poinsettia, provide even moisture, a warm spot in bright light but not direct sun. It will gradually lose its leaves, at which time you should cut it back to about 6 inches. Repot it into a larger pot and put it in a south window. Fertilize once monthly and pinch back stems once a month.

Give Herbs a Fluorescent Boost

If your windowsill herbs begin looking sad, put them under fluorescent lights for a few weeks. Group plants according to height, and set them as close to the light fixture as possible. Use an inexpensive timer to give them 14 to 16 hours of light each day.

Drown Those Fungus Gnats

If you have problems with fungus gnats, first reduce watering to dry out the soil a bit. The larvae live in the soil and feed on roots. If they don't go away, set the entire pot in a bucket of tepid water for half an hour and then drain well.

Limit the Deicing Salt

Use care if using sodium chloride for melting ice. Both sodium and chloride can damage plants, especially those within 30 feet of the road or sidewalk surface. Use only as much as you need, and mix it with sand for traction. Or switch to calcium chloride, which does less damage to plants.

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