Western Mountains and High Plains

December, 2010
Regional Report

Choose Poinsettias Carefully

Be picky when selecting a poinsettia plant. Select one with dark green foliage that starts at the bottom of the plant. The true flowers should be plump, just-opening green buttons (in the center of the colorful bracts). Avoid plants with droopy or yellow leaves.

Decorate with Evergreen Cuttings

Use prunings from the cut Christmas tree to decorate outdoor planters and gather a few to make an evergreen holiday bouquet in a vase of water for inside. Evergreen fragrance will help set the mood for this festive season. Add water to the vase daily to keep the cuttings from drying out.

Cut Berry Canes to the Ground

Do you grow everbearing raspberries like 'Heritage,' 'September' and 'Fall Gold'? One of the easiest way to maintain these varieties is a method of "hard pruning" in early winter. Prune the old stems down to ground level, (I use a lawn mower to get the job down easily and quickly) and this will clean out the raspberry patch. Everbearing types will bear fruit on new canes that grow next spring so it's a breeze to clean up the raspberry patch.

Check Protective Mulches

Rose bushes and perennial flowers that are located in exposed locations will benefit from winter mulching, now that the soil has gotten cold enough. Frost heave is a common problem with some plants in our region, especially during periods of freezing and thawing during winter temperature fluctuations. Use a few inches of coarse homemade compost, shredded leaves or shredded cedar chips.

Inspect Stored Bulbs

If you harvested and put summer flowering bulbs into storage in the basement, it's time for a checkup. Remove any that show signs of rotting and mold growth. If needed, you can dust with flowers of sulfur to inhibit additional rot. If the storage medium has started to dry out, lightly moisten with a spritz of tepid water.

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