Pacific Northwest

January, 2009
Regional Report

Rehydrate Dahlia Tubers

Check stored dahlia tubers. If a few are shriveled, you can rehydrate them by repacking in barely moistened peat moss. I use just a spritz of water from a spray bottle and mix the peat well before adding the tubers. Check on their progress in 3 or 4 days. They should be plump but not wet.

Premature Bulb Growth

Hardy spring bulbs sometimes send up new shoots in the middle of winter, when the weather seems much too cold. I always worry about the 3-inch daffodil shoots or blooming crocus when snow is predicted, but they are remarkably resistant to cold temperatures. With mulch for root protection, these plants will manage well on their own, stopping growth during cold spells and resuming when it warms up again. The only help you can offer is to place 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch around any exposed shoots if snow is predicted.

Apply Horticultural Oils

Horticultural oils (sometimes called dormant oils) suffocate insects and larvae that are overwintering on the bark of dormant trees and shrubs. Apply them on a calm day when temperatures are above 40F. Be sure to cover all surfaces of the plant with the spray, from ground level to the tips of the branches.

Divide Rhubarb

If the ground is unfrozen, divide and replant rhubarb. Dig the parent plant and divide it so that each new plant has 2 or 3 buds (eyes). Amend the soil with lots of organic matter, then replant the starts. Mulch well after replanting and keep well watered if Mother Nature doesn't cooperate.

Control Bagworms

Bagworms feed mainly on evergreens, though they can be found on many deciduous trees and shrubs. Now is a good time to control them. The pests live in pine cone-like cocoons that hang from foliage. Bagworm eggs overwinter in old "bags" and hatch in June. New bagworm larvae move throughout the plant and feed on leaves and needles. Control can be a challenge, as bags are difficult to penetrate with sprays. Hand picking is the easiest way to remove the bagworms, especially in winter when they are more easily seen.

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