Coastal and Tropical South

January, 2008
Regional Report

Plant for Arbor Day

If you've moved to our region from the north, you may be surprised to learn that Arbor Day is observed here in January -- Jan 18 in Florida. That's because the ground does not freeze here, and planting now gives roots time to get established before new growth needs them.

Cut Down Ornamental Grasses

Cut down ornamental grasses this month. Whether it's pampas or maiden grass, liriope or mondo, it's time to make room for new growth. Rural gardeners may be able to burn the dead foliage, but in most municipalities you'll need to cut if off with hedge shears -- manual or power, depending on the size of the grass.

Try Bubbly Water on Ants

Word comes from gardeners in Georgia that they have been fighting fire ants with carbonated water. Perhaps it's because of the dry weather there, or maybe we've just overlooked this simple approach. Poke a hole into the mound with a tool handle, pour in a gallon, and see if you agree with them.

Use Soap on Pests

Survey indoor and porch plants for insects nibbling new growth or hiding under old leaves. If insects are present, you can wash them off with a simple solution of soapy water. Use it to wipe the leaves and stems, or spray or dunk the whole plant, then rinse very well.

Caring for Holiday Plants

Now that the poinsettia, kalanchoe, and cyclamen have finished showing off for the holidays, give them what they need to keep growing. Clip off any damaged leaves or unopened flowers, remove remaining decorative wraps, then repot if their soil is very light or very heavy. Water and fertilize regularly.

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