Northern & Central Midwest

December, 2008
Regional Report

Check Holiday Plants for Pests

Check poinsettias, cyclamen, ivy, and narcissus for pests as soon as you bring them home from the store (or they are delivered). If you see pests, isolate the plant and spray with horticultural oil. Keep the plants in indirect light and a cool setting to keep them blooming for a long time.

Watch Houseplants for Pests

Keep a close eye on houseplants that were brought in from outdoors. Now that we are heating our homes, this is the time when insect populations will tend to increase. If you find aphids, scale, or whiteflies, rinse the plant off in the sink and then spray with horticultural oil.

Wait to Cover Roses

Wait until the temperature has dropped into the teens for several nights before you cover your roses. Remove any leaves and then hill up a loose, well-drained mix of compost and soil to about ten to twelve inches. After the soil mound has frozen, cover with leaves or evergreen boughs to keep the soil frozen.

Take Care of African Violets

Blooming African violets make beautiful holiday decorations. Give the plants a north or east exposure or grow under fluorescent lights set about 8 inches above the plants and kept on for 12 to 16 hours a day. Keep soil slightly moist, and water from the bottom to avoid wetting the leaves. Fertilize every two weeks with a dilute blooming-plant fertilizer.

Care for Holiday Cactus

Holiday cactus need cool temperatures and short days to promote flower buds. Keep them in a room with bright daylight but no artificial light for about two weeks. Once they start blooming, keep holiday cactus in bright light with moderately moist soil. Try to keep the temperatures below about sixty eight degrees to avoid bud drop.

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