Coastal and Tropical South

December, 2008
Regional Report

Nematode Nemesis

Sandy soils drain well and lots of plants grow well in them. Those that don't include many favorite vegetables, but don't blame the sand. Sandy soils are rife with nematodes -- microscopic worms that invade plant roots and destroy them. Read labels to find varieties that resist these pests.

Lost Nutrients

Another issue with our sandy soils is that as water runs through them rapidly, it takes nutrients with it. Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and the minor elements can be leached below the root zone and so become unavailable. Cure the problem by amending soil to improve its water- and nutrient-holding capacity and consider fertilizers that can be sprayed onto the leaves.

Cold Wraps

The sudden changes in temperature play havoc with tender annual flowers and vegetables. Even the flowers of stately camellias can be browned if cold weather bites a bud while it's opening. Lots of gardeners cover their plants to protect them when necessary. It's a good idea with two caveats: use cloth, not plastic, and remove it each morning.

Poinsettia Care

The ubiquitous Christmas plant is everywhere these days, but too many poinsettias are done in before the big day. Keep yours in a place with bright light, away from doors and windows frequently opened, and out of the direct flow of heater and air conditioning vents. Water it thoroughly but let it dry out a bit between drinks. Don't let it wilt!

Potted Christmas Trees

Eco-friendly folks often want to keep a tree from year to year, and it's a good option. Norfolk pine is an obvious choice, but so is Leyland cypress. This one will turn a bit yellow if exposed to frost, so if that's a possibility, bring it indoors to retain the good green color.

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