Western Mountains and High Plains

January, 2008
Regional Report

Check Outdoor Plants for Scale Pests

Take the opportunity to get outdoors and check aspen, lilac, and ash trees for oyster shell scale insect pests. These crusty little creatures will stack up on the stems and branches and sap the life out of the plant. During the warmer days of winter is an excellent time to treat these pests with horticultural dormant oil. This material will effectively control the scale by suffocating the overwintering mothers and eggs.

Mulch Bulb Sprouts

Be on the watch for warm spells of weather that can cause many bulbs to prematurely start growing. To delay rapid emergence and frost burn when cold weather sets in, spread a layer of mulch or coarse compost over the green shoots to keep the plants cool but protected from extreme temperature fluctuations. This will hold moisture in, too.

Hose Down Evergreens

Get out the garden hose and spray evergreen shrubs near the foundation. Reddish clover mites live in the protection of the evergreen needles and try to invade the house. Check around the windowsills for the mites. The best control for these pests indoors is to vacuum along the sill.

Water Thirsty Trees and Shrubs

Check the outdoor landscape for plants that may need watering, particularly the south, southwest, and western exposures. Lack of moisture can be fatal to plants if the roots succumb to drought stress. Drag out the hose and a frog-eye sprinkler and do some winter watering on a warm day.

Create a Living Valentine Basket

For a long-lasting Valentine's Day gift, make a living garden basket that will last for weeks. It's easy to make by combining small pots of flowering plants such as African violets, begonias, cyclamens, kalanchoes, moth orchids, and foliage plants in a wicker basket or terra cotta planter. Camouflage the tops of the pots with Spanish moss or sheet moss to finish the arrangement.

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