Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Upper South

December, 2003
Regional Report

Keeping Indoor Pests at Bay

Houseplants are frequently invaded in winter by an assortment of pests, most notably white flies, spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and scale. The best way to keep these pests at bay is to water plants regularly and provide a humid atmosphere. It's also important to maintain a close watch on plants in order to catch the pests early, before they become a major infestation. The best controls for indoor pests include insecticidal soap and Neem.

Caring for Small Fruits

If not already done, mulch strawberry beds with pine boughs or a 3-inch layer of straw. If the bed is several years old, plan on preparing a new bed in spring. Be sure to consider some of the day-neutral everbearing strawberries. For summer-bearing raspberries and blackberries, cut away all the canes that fruited this past year.

Protecting Tree Trunks

Young shade or fruit trees are particularly susceptible to having their trunks nibbled on by rabbits or mice in winter. To prevent this, use some type of trunk protection, such as cylinders of hardware cloth or commercially available protectors. The paper trunk protectors are useful for preventing sun scald damage to the trunk from freezing and thawing.

Dealing with Snow and Ice

Heavy snowfalls can break the branches of trees and shrubs. To save plants, very gently shake off the snow. Ideally, you should do this for a special shrub several times while it's still snowing. Ice storms are another matter; attempting to remove the ice may cause even more damage. To avoid salt damage to plants, use clean cat litter or sand on paths.

Treat Yourself for the Holidays

Seed and plant catalogs are already arriving, so take some time for yourself during the holidays and start dreaming and planning additions or changes to the garden in the coming year. Consider, too, what tools or equipment would make garden care easier for you. To make spring come even sooner, consider getting a cold frame or indoor light unit. Either can be used for starting seeds, and a cold frame also is excellent for starting early crops of lettuce.


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