Coastal and Tropical South

December, 2007
Regional Report

Repelling Greenhouse Ants

When ants invade, try an organic remedy: spread a thin layer of diatomaceous earth on the greenhouse floor and work some into the soil in pots. Drench the pots with a pyrethrin or insecticidal soap solution. The orange option: scatter peels everywhere or use orange oil spray to repel ants.

Make Propagating Pots

To layer a plant that's too stiff or pruned up so high that bending a branch to ground level is impossible, think up. Somewhere along that stem is a spot that will bend a bit. Make a shallow notch into the undeside of the branch at the spot, fasten a small bucket of soil to the branch beneath the notch, and wrap in plastic to root.

Reduce Transplant Shock

When leaves fall off new transplants, they need time to regenerate the foliage and so they may be set back. That's one form of transplant shock that can be prevented at planting time. Prune shrubs by one third and avoid transplanting in wet soil or on windy, dry days.

Don't Overfertilize New Plants

Gardeners argue annually over whether to fertilize new plants or not, especially in winter. Since no soil freezes here, root growth will begin very soon after transplant and could stimulate tender, vulnerable top growth. Put fertilizer tablets just below the root zone, or use a low-nitrogen fertilizer to stimulate root growth.

Keeping a Potted Conifer

A popular gift plant is a 1-foot-tall conifer in a decorated pot. Often a spruce or fir, it's seldom a good candidate for gardens in our regions. Rather than throw it away, why not try container culture, perhaps even bonsai training. Keep it indoors, avoid overwatering, and start pruning.

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