Western Mountains and High Plains
Pot Up Amaryllis
Those giant bulbs of amaryllis are available now, ready to plant. You can buy the kit with pot and all, or plant in your own container in good potting soil. Select a clay pot with some weight to support the tall stalks and blooms. Plant the bulb with two-thirds buried in the soil and the top one-third exposed. Follow care instructions for watering and light.
Keep Cyclamen Blooming
If you receive a cyclamen for the holidays, keep it in a cool but brightly lit location for the longest bloom. This flowering plant does best in a north or northeast window at temperatures as low as 45 degrees. It likes moist soil, but avoid soggy conditions. Fertilize lightly once a month. The plant will go dormant in April and send up new growth in September.
Spread Winter Mulch
Spread organic mulch around perennial flowers and shrubs for additional winter protection. Often termed "winter mulching," this is done to prevent the alternate freezing and thawing that can occur with our region's fluctuating winter temperatures. It is important to wait until the ground is frozen before applying the mulch. Use organic materials such as pine needles, coarse compost, shredded cedar shavings, or aspen mulch.
Weed Around Trees
Fruit trees, ornamental trees, and shrubs can be attacked by four-legged critters. Removing bunches of tall grasses and weeds will eliminate the hiding places for rabbits, gophers, meadow mice, and voles that can gnaw on bark tissue and cause severe damage to the plants.
Protect Tender Shrubs
Protect borderline hardy plants, such as rhododendrons and azaleas, from extreme temperature fluctuations and dry, winter winds. Place wire cages, snow fencing, or other protective screening around the bushes. Once in place, fill with a loose organic material, such as cedar shavings or clean straw. Then top with burlap to keep the material in place.