Northern & Central Midwest

December, 2009
Regional Report

Watch for Outdoor Bugs in the House

Boxelder bugs, ladybeetles, squash bugs, and other outdoor critters may come indoors looking for a place to spend the winter. They are harmless to people and indoor things, so either collect them in a jar and move outdoors or simply vacuum them up. Avoid smashing them because they will leave a stain or odor.

Grow African Violets

African violets make perfect holiday adornment and gifts. They are not hard to grow, and will provide beautiful blossoms with moderate light in a north or east window, average home temperatures, moist organic soil, and monthly fertilization with very dilute complete fertilizer. They can be wick-watered during vacation.

Check Stored Vegetables

Keep checking on stored vegetables and fruits to make sure storage conditions are just right. Discard any with blemishes that are not just superficial, and especially rid the barrel of any that begin to rot. Rotting fruits and vegetables give off ethylene gas that can affect other fruits in the vicinity.

Set Buds on Christmas Cactus

If your Christmas cactus hasn't set buds yet, find a spot where you can expose it to temperatures of about 45 degrees F for a couple of days. Don't go below this temperature or it will be harmed. After exposing it to this temperature, bring it in to a sunny windowsill and it should set its buds.

Check Holiday Plants for Pests

As holiday plants come into your home, be sure to check them carefully for pests, especially whiteflies on poinsettias, aphids on cyclamen, and scale on orchids. Isolate them for a few days just in case, and make sure to monitor their water needs carefully.

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