Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Upper South

December, 2010
Regional Report

Make Holiday Potpourri

Part of the pleasure of Christmas is the wonderful fragrances associated with it. You can add to those scents with a quick and easy potpourri that is great for scenting your own home or giving as gifts. Simply combine sprigs of fir, spruce and pine, some holly or other berries from the garden, rose hips, small cones, and seedpods. Add crushed cinnamon sticks and whole cloves for added fragrance or apply a few drops of an essential oil.

Keep Those Rosemary Trees Growing

Potted rosemary plants sheared to look like little Christmas trees are becoming more widely available, making them a popular addition to the holiday scene. Often, they are very potbound when purchased. You'll be most successful in keeping them alive by repotting into a larger pot, using a high-quality potting mix, perhaps adding some extra sand or perlite to improve drainage. Rosemary needs even moisture, but will not thrive if kept either too wet or too dry.

Make A Hearty Soup

Retrieve some of your own homegrown winter squash, potatoes, onions, and carrots to make a warming soup on these bitter cold days, or visit a farmer's market to purchase some, as the local farmers still need all the support you can give. While looking through your own storage, preferably a cool but not freezing, dark place, check to see if any of your stored vegetables are rotting and dispose of those that are.

Watch Those Houseplants

Scale, spider mites, mealybugs and other critters often appear on your houseplants, seemingly from out of nowhere. Check plants at least weekly to check for signs of these pests and treat immediately to control before the outbreak spreads. One of the safest treatments is insecticidal soap. To control an infestation of scales, wipe them off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Increasing the humidity around plants sometimes helps as well. If plants are stretching toward the light, try moving them to a brighter spot or adding fluorescent lights.

Avoid Dead Lawn and Slippery Steps

Although almost impossible to do, try to avoid walking on lawn grass when it's frozen, as this tends to damage it. Especially try to avoid walking in the same place. If you find yourself doing this, then perhaps it's a clue that stepping stones are needed in that area. When choosing a salt for clearing steps and walks, choose one that is safe for pets and plants. Even though these are more expensive, the savings in pet and plant health are well worth it.


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