Middle South

February, 2013
Regional Report

Spruce Up Lenten Roses

If your Lenten roses are bedraggled as winter draws to a close, prune away the old foliage as new leaves begin to appear. If you're prone to skin irritation be sure to wear gloves, as the leaves contain alkaloids that can cause dermatitis. As with most perennials, these plants will appreciate feeding with a generous amount of humus when new growth begins. Top dress again a couple months later when the last flowers are fading.

Spring Clean Birdhouses

Birds will be scouting for nesting spots soon, so make time now to clear your birdhouses of old litter. Then, using 10 percent bleach to water solution, scrub the house with a firm brush and rinse well. Put the house in the sun for several hours so it will dry and the bleach will dissipate before rehanging.

Check for Scale Insects

Now is the time to examine camellias and other plants susceptible to scale infestation and to spray them, as necessary, with horticultural oil. Treatment is most effective when applied in a spells of warm weather before new foliage emerges. Be sure to spray all parts of the leaves, not just their tops.

Prune Non-Blooming Evergreens

Late winter, after the probable danger of cold-season damage is past, is a good time to shape up evergreens such as boxwood, cleyera, ligustrum, and hollies. However, evergreens that bloom in winter or spring should not be pruned just yet. Wait to trim camellias, pieris, rhododendrons, and like-plants after their flowers fade.

Root Tuberous Begonias

Tuberous begonias are easy to start indoors and will be ready for planting out if you begin now. Simply combine three parts potting soil and one part sand for the growing medium and plant tubers in shallow pans or pots by placing the tubers hollow side up, spacing them 3 to 4-inches apart, and covering them with a half inch of mix. Grow in bright, indirect light and water sparingly until ready for transplanting outdoors.

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