Western Mountains and High Plains

January, 2009
Regional Report

An Alternative to De-icing Salts

Salt used to melt ice on sidewalks and driveways can be harmful to plants. Instead of salt use sharp sand: Fill up a wooden barrel with a sack of sand and keep it on the front porch. Spread a few garden trowels of sand on icy patches for better footing. This will prevent salt damage to lawns and other plants.

Wood Ashes on Garden Soils

Disaster can be the outcome when too many wood ashes are sprinkled onto Rocky Mountain garden soils. The majority of soils throughout the region, with the exception of some mountain soils, are alkaline. Wood ashes have the same effect as lime, sweetening or increasing the alkalinity. A soil that is too alkaline can lead to mineral and nutrient deficiencies in plants.

Leave Snow Around Plants

It's best to leave the snow accumulations on low-growing shrubs and ground covers. Snow is nature's best insulator and will reduce the freezing and thawing effect that will often occur during a winter thaw that is followed by plummeting temperatures at night.

Keeping Your Poinsettia

If you want to keep your Christmas poinsettia, prune it back to remove the fading bracts. Cut the flower off just above a leaf and new leaf growth will soon appear. Fertilize with a 10-10-10 fertilizer on a monthly basis. The plant will grow as a nice, full green houseplant.

Getting Rid of Pesky White Flies

You can eliminate a severe invasion of white flies on indoor flowering plants by using a small hand-held vacuum . This handy tool will scoop up white flies that have set up house on your indoor plants. Disturb the foliage with one hand and quickly move the vacuum around to catch the flurry of tiny, moth-like insects.

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