Coastal and Tropical South

February, 2013
Regional Report

Rub Out Aphids

Inspect plants, including the undersides of leaves, in the indoor garden for insect pests lurking in their foliage. Tiny aphids look like pinheads at growing points, while mealy bugs form sticky masses on stems and leaves. Use a cotton swab or paintbrush dipped in rubbing alcohol to control these common pests.

Avoid Crispy Leaf Tips

To keep houseplants from developing brown leaf tips, water from the top, using enough water to flow out the bottom drainage holes. Dump the excess water in the saucer promptly or use a turkey baster to suck it out. If you usually water plants from the bottom, use this top watering method periodically to wash salts from the potting mix.

Clean Your Tools

Take time now to wash hand tools and shovels well. Apply a light coating of oil to the tools and rub it into wooden handles to prevent splintering. Sharpen each blade, wipe with a clean cloth, and plunge each tool into a bucket of sand to keep it dry and ready for use.

Prune Roses

Cut hybrid tea roses down to three strong canes, each 18 inches tall. Remove everything else and follow up with a horticultural oil spray. Start pruning shrub roses by reducing their overall size by one half. Cut out twiggy growth and crowded branches to leave only strong canes evenly spaced.

Catch Up with Grasses

If January was too wet to cut back grasses like miscanthus and clumping ground covers like monkey grass and liriope, get busy now. Part the grass to see the new green growth and cut off everything else. Shape big ornamental grasses like mushrooms, but clip low growing clumps into rounder shapes.

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