Middle South

December, 2009
Regional Report

Leave Ornamental Grasses

Don't cut back ornamental grasses until late winter or early spring, just before new growth begins to emerge. Some native grasses will provide seeds for birds. Others will add movement and sound to the winter garden, as well as provide valuable shelter for an array of wildlife.

Inventory Seeds

Check your seed box and discard any seed packets that are more than three years old, or any seeds you saved and stored from last year's garden that are damp, moldy, or in bad condition. Look over what's left, and decide what you need to buy fresh.

Start a New Christmas Cactus

As soon as your Christmas cactus has finished blooming, you can start any number of new plants. Simply break off sections with three to five joints, insert the basil end into a small container of moist potting soil, and secure a plastic bag over the cutting with a rubber band. New plants should root in about four weeks.

Recycle Christmas Trees

Check with you county or municipal recycling center to see what options you have for recycling your live holiday tree. Some communities offer "Grinding of the Greens" on particular days, while others use collected trees for sand dune restoration or to enhance woodland or aquatic wildlife habitats. Or, recycle the tree in your home garden by cutting branches from the trunk and using them as extra mulch that is easily cleared as the weather warms next spring.

Feed and Enjoy Birds

Hang a number of bird feeds stocked with a variety of seeds, put out a suet cake, clean the birdbath, and stay at the window to watch the fun. Birds that live in the Middle South year-round, as well as a few visitors from up north, will flock to the feast and provide endless hours of amusement. Suet is a proven favorite of woodpeckers and nuthatches, thistle seed will keep goldfinches at hand, and black oil sunflower seeds will draw cardinals, chickadees, sparrows, and titmice.

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