Middle South

January, 2001
Regional Report

Mulch with Evergreen Boughs


Hardy annuals such as pansies and dianthus, along with shallow-rooted peonies and other perennials, benefit from a loose cover of evergreen boughs this time of year. Lop off limbs from your discarded Christmas tree or collect broken limbs from pines and lay them over plants to catch snow and baffle strong winds.

Monitor Mealybugs

During the frenzy of the holidays, it\'s possible that mealybugs discovered your houseplants while you weren\'t looking. These tiny insects are covered with a cottony white coating and can suck stems dry. Dip cotton swabs in rubbing alcohol to clean them from leaf undersides and from their favorite hangout, the crevices where leaves attach to stems.

Move African Violets

Place African violets in a sunny window now, and you\'ll see how they respond to the lengthening days. The plants will develop buds and blossoms soon after they start getting 12 hours of bright light. Feed them with a weak fertilizer if the leaves look pale green, but don\'t overwater them. African violets hate overly wet roots.

Create Safe Walkways


Instead of using salt to help clear ice-encrusted walkways, try plain clay kitty litter. Salt can damage nearby plants and lawns. Another plant-safe method is to cover steps and entryways with an old blanket before ice and snow accumulates. At the first sign of thawing, you can pick up the blanket and instantly have clean steps.

Prune Grapes


Whether you grow them for fruit or because you like the lush foliage of the vines, grapes need to be pruned severely if they're to stay healthy. Cut vines back to only 6 buds per branch, remove old branches that have been damaged by winter's ice and snow, and check trellises to make sure they are nice and strong.

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