Lower South

December, 2006
Regional Report

Starting a New Christmas Cactus From a Cutting

Want to start cuttings of your Christmas cactus? After the blooms are done, break off a section with four or five joints, and insert the basal end into a pot of moderately moist potting soil. Place a plastic bag over the cutting and secure it around the pot with a rubber band. Set it on a windowsill out of direct sunlight. The cutting should be rooted in three to four weeks.

Don't Wait to Plant Trees and Shrubs

Late fall through late winter is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. Roots will continue to grow in our cool winter soils. Early planting results in a well-established plant that's better prepared for the stresses of next summer. Firm the soil in around the roots, and water the roots well at planting.

Clean Up Flower Beds

Remove spent annuals and frozen top growth in perennial beds. Mulch these areas to deter weeds. Mix compost into the soil to rework annual beds in preparation for spring planting. It is just around the corner!

Maintain Soil Moisture

Keep landscape plants moist but not soggy over the winter. We sometimes have dry periods, which can be especially stressful to evergreens and new transplants. Plus soil moisture will provide a source of warmth to help protect a covered plant on a cold night.

Protecting Plants Before a Freeze

When covering plants before a freeze, drape the blanket or other covering over the plant and weight it down to the soil around the dripline. This will allow soil warmth to rise and help warm the plant's branches and leaves. Wrapping the top and tying the cover to the trunk creates "landscape lollipops" that won't benefit from this natural protective heat source.

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