Western Mountains and High Plains

December, 2011
Regional Report

Choose Poinsettias Carefully

Choose a plant with dark green foliage starting at the bottom of the plant. The true flowers should be plump, just-opening green buttons (in the center of the colorful bracts). Make sure you have your poinsettias wrapped in a floral sleeve before transporting them outdoors to your car. Cold, windy days will make an unprotected plant drop its leaves and colorful bracts.

Use Evergreen Boughs to Decorate Outdoors

Use trimmings from your cut Christmas tree to decorate outdoor planters, and gather some 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.

Check Summer Bulbs in Storage

Bulbs stored in the basement need inspection. 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 it with a spray bottle filled with warm water. Gently mist dry sphagnum peat moss, sawdust, vermiculite, and compost.

Mulch Roses and Exposed Perennials

Rose bushes and perennial flowers in exposed locations will benefit from winter mulching now that the soil has started to freeze. Frost heave is a common problem with some plants in our region, especially during winter temperature fluctuations. Use a few inches of coarse homemade compost, shredded leaves, clean straw, shredded cedar chips, or humus-rich garden soil. Spread a layer of mulching material around susceptible perennials, rose bushes, and tender shrubs.

Evergreen Scraps Protect Plants

Evergreen boughs are very useful for protecting sensitive, semi-hardy shrubs. Recycle tree trimmings by placing them around the bottoms of azaleas and rhododendrons. This will help to buffer extreme temperature fluctuations and winter sun damage. If the ground is not frozen, you can even stick the cut ends of boughs into the soil around the plants. Evergreen cuttings collect snow and keep it around the plants for additional protection.

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