Upper South

December, 2011
Regional Report

Dive Into Seed and Plant Catalogs

Catalogs for garden seeds and plants have already started to arrive, with many more to follow. Plus, those companies that have gone to web-only catalogs have now posted the 2012 offerings. If you are not on the mailing list of a company whose catalog you'd like to receive, order it right away. To get the best choice of seeds, especially of rare or unusual varieties, it's a good idea to order as soon as possible. Whenever possible, order organic seeds to ensure that you aren't getting genetically altered seeds or ones treated with dangerous pesticides, unless the company specifies otherwise for non-organic seeds.

Utilize Pine Cones

Cones from both evergreen and deciduous conifers are a treasure trove for decorating and gifts at Christmas. Use them to make wreaths entirely of cones or as decorations on evergreen wreaths. Add them as a decoration on packages or in arrangements as well as ornaments for the tree. Use them "as is," or spray with paint and add glitter. Include small larch cones in winter potpourri. Dip them in wax to use as fire starters. Or smear them with peanut butter or suet and hang outdoors for the birds.

Protect Tender Gift Plants

When transporting a gift plant, such as a poinsettia or orchid, whether to your own home or to a friend's house, remember that tropicals are very sensitive to cold temperatures. For safe arrival, encase them in paper (old newspapers work well), stapling the cover closed. If possible, have the car warmed up before carrying the plant outside. Once indoors, unwrap them at once and water well. Place where the plant will receive bright light and is not near either drafts of cold air or blasts of hot air from a heat source.

Make Winter Potpourri

Part of the fun of Christmas is the fragrances associated with it. Add to your holiday pleasure with a quickly and easily made potpourri featuring the classic scents of the season. Use snippets of pine, spruce, or fir; holly berries; and small pine cones for the core of the potpourri, with seed pods, rose hips, or dried flowers also a possibility. Next, include some crushed cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, or other appropriate spices. To intensify the fragrance, add several drops pine or fir essential oil.

Re-Pot Rosemary Gift Plants

Rosemary plants shaped into miniature Christmas trees or topiaries have become popular items for sale at this time of year. Unfortunately, many of them arrive at stores as potbound plants that have trouble surviving. Since rosemary is difficult enough to grow indoors, give it a fighting chance by re-potting into a container several inches larger. Add some additional sand or perlite to your soil mix to ensure good drainage. Rosemary plants need to dry out slightly between waterings, but never so much that the plant begins to wilt.

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