Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

New England

December, 2000
Regional Report

Caring for Amaryllis

If your amaryllis show is finished, don\'t throw out that bulb. With some care you can coax them to bloom again next year. Cut back the flower stalk (but not the leaves) and continue watering and fertilizing the bulb. In summer, place the pot outdoors in a protected environment. In fall, bring it indoors and let the leaves die back and the bulb go dormant. In November, start watering again, and it may bloom again in winter.

Controlling Spider Mites

Many houseplants, such as palms and cyclamen, are attacked by spider mites this time of year. These microscopic creatures feed on the leaves, causing them to turn yellow. When the mites\' numbers are high, they will form webs on the leaves. Control spider mites by misting plants daily to keep the humidity high (spider mites love dryness) and by spraying with insecticidal soap.

Avoid Walking on Bare, Frozen Lawns

If Mother Nature hasn\'t blessed you with snow cover on your lawn, don\'t walk on the frozen grass. Walking on frozen grass without the protection of snow can break grass blades and may cause dieback in your lawn that will show up next spring. Put up flagging or stakes in sensitive areas to keep visitors on the path.

Check Old Seeds

If you have saved seed from years past, check the date on the seed packet. Most seeds will remain strongly viable only for two to three years. Throw out older seeds or do a germination test on each type: Place 20 seeds in a moist paper towel and place it in a warm area. After a couple of weeks, check to see how many have germinated. If fewer than 80 percent have begun growing, it\'s time to buy new seeds.

Removing Snow from Shrubs

For the most part, you should let Mother Nature melt the snow off shrubs. However, if you have a heavy snowfall and the limbs are severely bent, you may want to remove some of the snow to protect the shrub. Gently take off most of the snow with a broom or by hand, being careful not to injure the branches. Using a shovel to remove snow may injure some leaves and branches and should be avoided.


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