Lower South

December, 2001
Regional Report

Start New Christmas Cactus Plants From Cuttings

Want to start cuttings of your Christmas cactus? After the blooms are done, break of a section with 4 or 5 joints, and insert the basal end into a pot of moderately moist potting soil. Place a plastic bag over the cutting and secure it around the pot with a rubber band. Set it on a windowsill out of direct sunlight. The cutting should be rooted in 3 to 4 weeks.

Don't Wait to Plant Trees and Shrubs

Late fall through late winter is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. Roots will continue to grow in our cool winter soils. Early planting results in a well-established plant that's better prepared for the stresses of next summer. Firm the soil in around the roots and water the roots well at planting time.

Prepare Beds for Rose Planting

Prepare beds for roses to be planted in late winter. Use composted manure, pine bark, and decomposed organic materials mixed 50:50 with existing soil. Roses need good drainage so building raised planting beds is usually a good idea. They also need lots of sunlight so select a location with at least 6 hours of sun exposure a day.

Recycle That Christmas Tree

If you have a fresh cut tree for Christmas decorating, don't throw it away when the holiday is over. Check with your local municipality for times and locations of any tree recycling centers in your area. That old tree can become valuable mulch for a community park or nature path.

Protect Marginally Hardy Plants

Place a deep mulch around marginally hardy plants such a ginger, firebush (Hamelia), and banana to protect the roots and basal buds during a very hard freeze. Mound up sandy soil, sawdust or compost around the basal trunk of tender fruit species like figs, satsuma oranges, and kumquats to help them survive and re-establish after a severe cold snap that may kill the above ground portion of the tree.

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