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Home >> Departments/Offices >> Cooperative Extension >> Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips

Trees:  Check guy wires around newly planted trees to be sure hose sections still cover the supporting wires or ropes so they will not damage the trunks in windy weather.

Bulbs: Tulips and Dutch Iris need to be planted in cold soil so they do not send up shoots before roots are established. They need at least ten weeks of cold weather to bloom.

Perennials: After several killing frosts have occurred in the fall, cut back dormant perennials to about three inches above ground. Place mulch around plants to ensure a successful show of plant foliage and color next season. Avoid piling mulch against or over crowns. During cold snaps, invert large flowerpots over semi-hardy perennials for protection.

Soils: If you're planning to lay newspapers as mulch in the spring, glue them end-to-end this winter and store them as rolls. When needed, the paper mulch unrolls easily and won't be lifted by the wind before it can be anchored. Soil test in the fall/winter for spring plantings. If a soil test indicates the need to raise pH, apply dolomitic lime in the fall/winter so fall and winter rain can move it into the soil. 

Houseplants: Keep an eye out for spider mites on your houseplants; they thrive in dry air. At the first sign of any insect infestation, isolate the plant. Several thorough washings with plain water may bring the pest problem under control. If not, apply an appropriate insecticide - follow instruction on the label! Houseplant foods are beneficial, but remember that a little fertilizer can go a long way. Many gift plants may not need to be fertilized until spring. If your amaryllis has been grown in a warm room, the long flower stalk may require staking. Take care not to damage the bulb when inserting the stake into the pot. As Christmas cactus plants come into bloom, reduce watering to prolong the blooming period. Keep in full sun at 70º F.