New England

January, 2001
Regional Report

Recycle Christmas Trees

Now that the holidays are over, your Christmas tree can serve another purpose. Remove all the decorations and tinsel and place the tree outside about 10 feet from the bird feeders. The birds appreciate a sheltered spot to hide in while they wait their turn at the feeders.

Poinsettia Care

The holidays are over, but your poinsettia is probably still looking good. You can keep the plant healthy and colorful until spring by placing it in a sunny window, watering and fertilizing it regularly, and removing any dead leaves. In spring, unless you\\\'re ambitious, just toss the plant into the compost pile. Trying to save them to bloom again next year is more work than I like to do.

Check Stored Bulbs

Any gladiolus, dahlias or begonia tubers or bulbs you have stored in the basement should be checked periodically throughout the winter. If the bulbs or tubers seem shriveled, mist them with water. If some are rotting, repack them with fresh materials and don\'t overwater.

Check Houseplants for Mealybugs

Check the crotches between leaf and stem of houseplants such as figs and dumb canes for signs of mealybugs. These insects are obvious. They have cottony white bodies and feed by sucking plant juices from leaves. If you have only a few, dab them with rubbing alcohol to kill them. If you have many, spray them with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.

Sketch Out a Garden


January is a great time to sketch out any new gardens you'd like to build in spring. On graft paper, outline a small garden and then research the plants that will fill it. Check the mature size of plants you're considering, and resist the temptation to overplant an area. Plants will grow faster than you think.

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