Middle South

November, 2010
Regional Report

Force Paperwhites

Paperwhites, narcissus with extremely fragrant white flowers, are easily forced and make excellent decorations for holiday display. Simply fill a container with about two inches of small pebbles, nestle bulbs among the stones, add enough water to wet the round flat area on the bottom of the bulbs, and keep roots submerged as they grow. Bulbs will bloom about three weeks after green foliage begins to appear. For continuous bloom throughout the season, start a new group of bulbs every two weeks.

Brew Willow Water

Take advantage of the hormones in willow trees to help propagate cuttings by steeping several one-inch pieces of willow branches in simmering water and allowing the brew to sit for a day. Use the resulting liquid to irrigate cuttings once they are placed in a growing medium and they'll be quicker to take root and flourish. Willow water is also believed to prevent damping-off and canker in plants with these problems.

Boost Cut Arrangements

When flowers are cut and brought into the house, they won't last long. There are a number of tricks, however, to prolong the inevitable. If you're in a mood to experiment, try one or more of these "proven" techniques: put a penny in the water (the copper acts as a fungicide), add lemon-lime soda (the sugar feeds while the citrus kills bacteria), or stir in an aspirin (the acidity promotes the uptake of water).

Add Antique Accoutrements

If you like to visit yard sales, auctions and antique stores, keep your eyes peeled for vintage items that will work in the landscape. There's no telling what you might find, which is part of the fun. Recycled objects, such as a scrap of cast-iron fencing or a wooden wheelbarrow, will look right at home and give the garden with a sense of history.

Store Seeds Properly

To a certain extent, the viability of seeds is determined by how well they are stored. Most seeds should be kept cool, dry, and out of direct sunlight. To store seeds dry in a glass jar, pour in a couple inches of powdered milk, add a few layers of paper towels, then add your packets of seeds.

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