Upper South

January, 2011
Regional Report

Keep Moth Orchids Blooming and Growing

Moth orchids, more properly known as the genus Phalaenopsis, are widely available in garden centers and grocery-store flower shops. They're elegant, long-blooming, and easy to grow. They thrive in average home temperatures with moderate to bright light. Water about once a week, using distilled, rain, or reverse-osmosis filtered water. Let the potting mix dry out thoroughly in between waterings. Fertilize every week when you water, skipping once a month.

Protect Trees from Sunscald

Young trees, especially honey locust, linden, maple, mountain ash, and all fruit trees, are susceptible to sun scald in winter. This happens on sunny days, when the bark expands and splits. Although protection is usually applied in the fall, it's not too late to wrap the trunk with commercially available tree wrap or white plastic guards. Remove the wrap in the spring after the last frost.

Check Perennials for Heaving

Those warm, sunny breaks in winter weather cause the soil to thaw, only to re-freeze with subsequent Arctic blasts. The effect of this alternating freezing and thawing is to push, or heave, perennials partially out of the ground. Take a walk around the garden on one of those beautiful days to check on your perennials. If you see any heaved plants, gently push them back into the soil and apply an organic mulch around them.

Grow Sprouts

If you're hungry for some fresh, home-grown salads, consider growing sprouts, including mung beans, broccoli, fenugreek, radishes, red clover, sunflowers, and others. Just be sure to buy seeds that are specifically for sprouting, as seeds for the garden are sometimes treated with chemicals. Special gadgets can be purchased or you can simply grow sprouts in a glass jar.

Start a Pot of Basil

Basil, which many consider the consummate summer herb, can also be grown indoors. One simple way to start plants is to place stems of purchased basil in a jar of water and place in a spot with bright, indirect light. When roots form, plant into a pot. Or start seeds of one of the miniature basils, such as 'Greek Bush', 'Spicy Globe,' 'Minette,' 'Green Globe,' 'Pistou,' 'Marseilles,' 'Compatto,' 'Windowbox,' or 'Italian Cameo.'

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