Western Mountains and High Plains

December, 2009
Regional Report

Decorate with Evergreen Prunings

Use prunings from the Christmas tree and wreath making to decorate your outdoor planters, and gather a few to make an evergreen holiday bouquet in a vase of water for inside. The evergreen fragrance helps to set the mood for this festive season. Add a few sprigs of fresh holly berries, pyracantha berries, hawthorn, or many other attractive cuttings from your ornamental shrubs and trees.

Water Poinsettia Carefully

To ensure longevity for a newly acquired poinsettia plant, check the soil daily. When the soil feels dry, water thoroughly until water comes out of the drainage hole. However, do not allow the plant to sit in water that accumulates in the drainage saucer. The poinsettia will not tolerate "wet feet." Keep the plant away from drafts and heat sources, too.

Mulch with Evergreen Cuttings

Provide protection to rhododendrons and azaleas by placing evergreen boughs around them. These will help buffer the extreme temperature fluctuations and sun damage so often common in our region. If the ground is not frozen, you can stick the cut ends of the boughs into the soil around the plants. Evergreen boughs help to collect snow and keep it around the plants for additional protection.

Prune Out Diseased Branches

During mild winter days, prune dead or diseased branches from deciduous trees and shrubs while they are bare. Crabapples that are prone to the bacterial fire blight disease can be pruned to remove branches that were infected this past season. Burn or dispose of prunings to prevent possible infection during the spring.

Check Houseplants

Check newly acquired houseplants for signs of pests. Spider mites will cause a fine webbing on stems and leaves and multiply rapidly in the warm conditions of your home. An easy way to prevent a severe invasion is to wash plant leaves, top and bottom, with tepid soapy water. Then rinse with clear water. Use a biodegradable liquid hand soap that is gentle on your hands and plant foliage.

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