Mid-Atlantic

January, 2009
Regional Report

Keep Holiday Lights Handy

Early winter thaws can be the demise of spring and summer bulbs that poke skyward in the warmth. To protect green bulb sprouts from the inevitable hard freeze, clear dried debris then lay strings of holiday lights on the ground to surround but not touch the sprouts. To keep the heat under wraps, make tent-like covers from open boxes. Drape bedsheets, curtains, light blankets over the boxes when freeze threatens. Plug in the lights when temps are predicted to drop below 32F.

Lighten Your Leaves

Give your shiny-leafed indoor plants a refreshing spring shower. Most plants will appreciate misting, rinsing, or wiping off leaves (topside and underside) with tepid water. It's okay to put plants in the tub then turn on a gentle shower. Or place them in the sink and rinse with the hand sprayer. Plants will grow better without dust and dirt accumulated on leaf surfaces. DO NOT spray water on hairy leaves such as African violets. Dust off those leaves with a soft cosmetic brush.

Remove English Ivy

Remove English ivy from trees, shrubs, and building walls. Wear gloves in case you mistake an English ivy vine for a poison ivy vine. To keep from pulling off tree bark, cut the vine at the base of the tree and leave the upper portion alone for now. For a thick vine, cut out a 3- to 4-inch section of the vine at the base. After a month or so when the leaves have shriveled and died, it's okay to pull the dried-up vine off the tree.

Watch for Poison Ivy Vines

Vining poison ivy resembles English ivy vines way too closely. Both ivies grow aerial roots, enabling the vine to attach to a tree or shrub. Poison ivy's aerial roots make the vine look like a fuzzy rope. English ivy has green leaves still on the vines. Poison ivy leaves have dropped so you'll see a bare fuzzy vine without leaves. The urushiol oil in leaves, vines, and roots causes an allergic reaction. Removing poison ivy vines releases lots of urushiol. So err on the side of caution.

Prep on Cold Days for Work on Mild Days

Check out your stonework -- walls, paths, fountains, pots -- for areas that need repair or repointing. On cold days, shop for and organize work tools and supplies. On mild days, you'll be ready to tackle the repairs in small doses -- an hour or three -- through the winter.

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