Northern & Central Midwest

January, 2006
Regional Report

Let Ice Melt Off Trees

In these icy months, tree branches may become covered with ice. Let the ice melt gradually instead of cracking it off. Trying to get it off with a sharp or heavy tool risks damaging the tree bark and injuring the tree. For evergreens, softly brush away snow but don't pound the branches with a broom.

Check Perennials for Heaving

Check perennials every few days, especially when we have a thaw. They may be heaved out of the ground by freezing and thawing, exposing tender roots to desiccation. Gently push them back into the ground with your fingers -- don't stomp them or you may cause irreversible damage.

Take Care of Amaryllis Year-Round

When your amaryllis is finished blooming, cut off the stalks but leave the foliage intact. Put them in a sunny window and care for them as other houseplants. Once the weather warms, move them outdoors to spend the summer, and fertilize about every two weeks until dormancy time.

Put Houseplants Under Lights

Houseplants are beginning to show signs of not enough light if their leaves are stretching and getting lighter in color. Think about moving some of them under supplemental light for a few weeks to boost their systems. Fluorescent lights placed a few inches from plants for 14 to 16 hours will help them out of the winter doldrums.

Keep Paper Whites Stocky

Are your paper whites floppy? Research at Cornell University shows that giving them a cocktail after rooting will keep them shorter but not harrm the blooms. After they've rooted well, give them a solution of 4 to 6 percent alcohol. Rubbing alcohol, gin, vodka, tequila, or any distilled spirit will do. Beer and wine won't.

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