Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Pacific Northwest

December, 2008
Regional Report

Recycle Packing Materials

Styrofoam packing peanuts can be recycled. Seal them in plastic bags and place the bags in the bottom of a deep planter before adding soil. Don't mix them with soil or dump them in without sealing in bags or they'll float. Not all packing materials are made of Styrofoam; the biodegradable kind is made of cornstarch and will dissolve in water.

Add Color to Your Winter Landscape

If your landscape looks dull and gray this winter, consider adding woody plants with attractive and colorful branches or bark. Some good choices for winter color include shrub dogwoods with red or golden yellow twigs; the shaggy-barked, paperbark maple; and river birch.

Try Garbage Gardening

Just for fun, try some new houseplants made from kitchen scraps. With a little care, it's possible to root pineapple tops, start avocado pits in water, germinate citrus seeds, plant bits of plump ginger root, or even start a sweet potato vine. And by using food-grade seeds, you can produce your own supply of edible bean and veggie sprouts.

Increase Humidity for Houseplants

Most houseplants crave humidity during the winter heating season. Make a simple humidifier by filling a shallow tray with pebbles and adding water to just below the top of the pebbles. Set plant pots on the pebbles and maintain the water level as needed. Group your plants to create a humid corner.

Inspect Houseplants for Pests

Houseplants, especially ficus and dracaena, can become magnets for pests such as scale and mealybugs this time of year. Check plants weekly, and if you see signs of these or other pests, spray with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Repeat as necessary.


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