Middle South

January, 2012
Regional Report

Seed Hardy Annuals

Seeds of hardy annuals should be planted now. Small seeds, like poppies and alyssum, should be scattered over raked soil, but not covered. Larger seeds, however, such as larkspur, can be planted in furrows.

Take Cuttings

It's not too early to take cuttings of plants that are overwintering indoors, such as begonias and geraniums. Potted now, they'll be big enough to transplant in the garden after danger of frost is past in April.

Tidy Houseplants

Mid-winter is also a good time to spiff up houseplants. Begin by snipping off dead leaves and flowers and trimming back lanky growth. Hairy-leaved plants can be cleaned with a soft brush, while smooth-leaved ones will benefit from a tepid shower in the kitchen sink. Especially large plants or leaves can be wiped with a damp cloth. Then, top dress with fresh potting mix if soil has settled too low. Don't fertilize, though, until new growth begins in later in the season.

Get Ready for Pruning

With pruning season just around the corner, find time to clean and sharpen saws and hand clippers. Use a fine file and then a whetstone to sharpen blades, then wipe clean with a damp cloth before drying and spraying lightly with penetrating oil, such as WD40.

Irrigate Before Storms Blow In

When the weather is changing and winds become brisk, don't forget to irrigate evergreens and winter ornamentals. Even when the soil is frozen, plants will continue to loose water through their foliage; much so-called frost damage is actually caused by desiccation.

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