Pacific Northwest

December, 2006
Regional Report

Keep Indoor Plants Happy and Healthy

Keep your indoor plants away from trouble spots, such as entry doors, drafty corridors, fireplaces, or heating vents. Temperature fluctuations also can cause houseplants to develop yellow leaves, and sudden leaf drop will follow. Forced air heat will dry out plants rapidly and often cause browning of leaf margins.

Protect Broadleaf Shrubs

Use evergreen boughs to protect sensitive, semihardy shrubs, such as hydrangeas and azaleas. This will help buffer the temperature fluctuations and prevent winter sun damage. You can even stick the cut ends of boughs into the soil around the plants to collect snow. This added insulation will further protect the plants.

Plant the Last of the Bulbs

If you've forgotten to plant spring-flowering bulbs, you still have a chance to get them into the ground. After digging the planting site, add a generous amount of compost and sprinkle a granular 5-10-5 fertilizer before planting the bulbs. Place bulbs at the proper depths, cover, and water them in thoroughly.

Turn Over the Soil

Spade or till your annual flower and vegetable beds to expose insects and their eggs. The rough, lumpy clods will weather down during the winter months, leaving the soil softer for spring planting. If you have a source of cow or horse manure, add a generous amount (3 to 4 inches deep) to beds before turning.

Plant Green Manures

Now is an excellent time to plant green manure cover crops in empty beds. Green manures are plants that grow up to be tilled under, adding organic matter to the soil. They also outcompete weeds and reduce soil erosion. Sow 1 to 2 pounds of hairy vetch or winter rye, or 1/4 pound of Austrian peas per 1,000 square feet of garden space.

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