Western Mountains and High Plains

February, 2010
Regional Report

Sterilize Old Containers

Before you start seeds indoors, take time to wash and scrub old pots and containers with a mild mixture of liquid bleach and water (1 part bleach to 9 parts water). This will help sterilize the containers to prevent seedling diseases. Replace old caked potting soil or mixes with fresh potting mixtures.

Keep Watch for Indoor Pests

Monitor indoor plants for insect pests including aphids, whose telltale signs are the sticky, honeydew drippings on the leaves. Spray these pests off the foliage with a lukewarm water and soap mixture: Use a few drops of dishwashing soap in an 8-ounce spray bottle filled with water. Spray this periodically and you can win the battle against the aphid invasion.

Water Houseplants Carefully

Be careful when watering your indoor plants. More die from overwatering than underwatering. Water houseplants only when they need it. Stick your finger into the potting soil, 1 to 2 inches deep. If the soil feels damp, wait. Watering frequency will vary with the type of plant, the size and kind of pot, proximity to heating vents, light conditions, and temperature conditions in your home.

Avoid the Urge to Prune Grapevines

Avoid the urge to prune grapevines too early in February. It's still winter, and early pruning can stimulate early bud growth during warm spells. Young and succulent growth is more vulnerable to frost damage, and a stressed grapevine will yield less fruit and may die.

Create a Living Gift Basket

For a long-lasting green gift, make a living garden basket. It will last for weeks. It's easy to make by combining small pots of flowering plants -- African violets, begonias, cyclamen, forced tulips, etc. with foliage plants in a wicker basket. Cover the tops of the pots with Spanish moss or sheet moss to finish the basket.

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