New England

November, 2009
Regional Report

Leave Asparagus Stalks

If you can depend on consistent snow cover, leave the stalks to trap the snow. Otherwise, cut them to the ground and mulch the crowns with 3 to 4 inches of straw or bark chips.

Promoting Blooms on Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus develops buds when night temperatures are 55 to 60 degrees F. If nights are warmer, place your plant where it receives no light from about 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. for 30 days, such as in a closet. Move the plant to a sunny location during the day.

Sow Perennials

Sow seeds of perennials that need cold treatment, such as alliums, gentians, monkshood, primulas, and alpine plants. Sow in flats and move them outside to a shady location, or sow directly in an empty bed outside. Cover with pine boughs.

Protect Roses for Winter

Once the ground begins to freeze and you have consistent temperatures in the low 20s F, it's time to protect modern hybrid roses from winter's wind and cold. The simplest method is to mound bark mulch around the base of the rose, covering the graft union (the swollen part of the stem near the ground). The mound should be about one foot tall. Wait until spring to cut back the canes above the mound.

Planning for a Living Christmas Tree

If you are planning to buy a liviing Christmas tree that you'll plant after the holiday is over, dig and prepare the planting hole now before the soil freezes. Once you've dug the hole, place the soil from the hole in a nonfreezing garage or basement. When you're ready to plant, water the tree well before placing it in the hole, cover the root ball with soil up to where the roots flare out at the base of the trunk, and water again.

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