Northern & Central Midwest

December, 2006
Regional Report

Use Salt-Free Deicers

In preparation for ice season, stock up on potassium- or calcium-based products for areas away from the garden. Try to avoid all salt-based deicing products in or around garden areas. Sodium chloride products, in particular, are damaging to plants. Remember to shovel as much as you can before spreading deicing material.

Keep Christmas Tree Watered

To keep a Christmas tree from becoming a fire hazard, cut 2 inches off the trunk when you bring it home and immediately put it into a bucket of warm water. Once set up indoors, make sure the tree stand is always full of water. If left without water, a seal will form across the stump, preventing it from taking up water.

Take Special Care of Living Christmas Tree

Live trees to be planted can remain in the house for no more than one week before they break their dormancy. Dig a large planting hole now before the ground freezes, and keep the soil in the garage where it won't freeze. Gradually expose the tree to cold before moving it outside permanently.

Enjoy Paper Whites

Plant paper white narcissus in a shallow bowl with the bulbs close together. Cover the bulbs with pebbles, with just their tips exposed. The weight of the pebbles helps to keep them from falling to the side as they grow. Be ready to encase the stems with some type of support to prevent flopping. Water just enough to encourage root growth, without soaking the bulbs. Enjoy!

Plan for New Houseplants

Before bringing home a new houseplant, give some consideration to where you want to grow the plant. Find out its requirements for humidity, temperature, and light, and make sure you have the right conditions. Be prepared for it to decline a bit when it changes its location from a humid, warm greenhouse to your home.

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