New England

December, 2000
Regional Report

Cut Back Geraniums


If you brought in your geranium plants (Pelargonium) this fall and are growing them indoors this winter, chances are they've gotten very leggy by now. The cloudy, short day of November and December don't provide enough light for these plants to thrive. Cut back the geranium to about 1 foot tall. The resprout and with the longer day of late winter grow bushier.

Check Ficus for Scale


Ficus trees are notorious for getting scale insects infestations this time of year. Check on the undersides of leaves for brown or tan colored bumps along the leaf vein. If you only find a few scale insects, flick them off with your finger. For severe infestations (many scales per leaf), spray the plant with horticultural oil to smoother them.

Spray Antitranspirants

During any warm (above 40 degrees F) days this month, spray broadleaf evergreen shrubs, such as rhododendrons and mountain laurel, with an antitranspirant to protect them from the winter cold and drying winds. It\'s especially helpful for tender varieties. Antitranspirants create a coating over the leaves that helps the plant conserve moisture. Spray now and again in March.

Propagate African Violets


African violets make great houseplants and will flower in winter if given supplemental light. To propagate new plants, take a leaf cutting, dip the cut end in a rooting hormone powder such as Rootone and stick the cutting in a pot filled with vermiculite or sand. Cover the pot with a perforated clear plastic bag and keep the soil moist. In a few weeks you'll have new plants.

Use Salt Alternatives on Sidewalks

Instead of using salt to deice your walks or driveway, consider some less hazardous alternatives. Salt can harm the roots of nearby plants and lawn grass. Instead of salt, try using sand or kitty litter to keep your walkways safe for you and your plants.

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