Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Upper South

November, 2005
Regional Report

Protect Roses

Once the ground freezes and night temperatures are consistently in the 20s, modern hybrid roses should have protective winter mulch placed around them. Mound bark mulch around the base of the rose, making the mound about 1 foot high. If you've had trouble overwintering roses in the past, consider adding a layer of straw or leaves over the bark mulch. Do not cut canes back until early spring.

Purchase a Holiday Cactus

Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti (so-called because of their natural blooming periods) are succulent plants with flattened leaves that are widely available now at garden centers and other retail outlets. Unlike many holiday plants, these are long lived and easily grown, and they withstand neglect and reliably rebloom. Be sure to let the soil dry out slightly between waterings.

Keep an Eye on Evergreens

When the ground is frozen and conditions are windy, evergreen trees and shrubs -- especially broad-leaved ones like azaleas and rhododendrons -- can lose water from the leaves that the roots can't replace from the frozen soil. To remedy this, water plants when the ground is thawed if there is not adequate rainfall, use an anti-dessicant spray on the leaves, or wrap young plants in burlap.

Mulch Strawberries

If you live in an area with little or no snow cover, protecting strawberry plants is necessary. Once the strawberry leaves are lying on the ground from a hard frost, add 3 to 5 inches of loose, clean straw that is free of weed seeds. An alternative is to cover the strawberry bed with a heavier weight, frost-protective fabric. Use anchor pins to keep it in place.

Clean and Fill Bird Feeders

Scrub bird feeders with soap and water, then rinse with a weak bleach solution (one part household chlorine bleach to nine parts water). Dry thoroughly before filling. Make any repairs at this time or purchase new feeders. Feeders should be cleaned at least once a month. Black oil sunflower seed is eaten by the widest variety of birds. Also put up a suet feeder and one filled with niger seed for the finches.


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