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Green Thumb Tips

Echter’s Plant Doctors are available during store hours seven days a week to answer
your gardening questions. For accurate diagnosis, it helps to bring in a sample.

Perennials & Roses
Mulch your perennial and bulb beds after the ground freezes. Mulch conserves soil moisture and helps minimize freezing and thawing of the soil.
 
After Christmas, cut the branches from your Christmas tree and lay them over your perennials as added protection from cold and wind.
Lawns
Water your lawn once a month during warm and dry periods. Since the sprinkler systems are drained, you will need to do this with a hose and sprinkler. Pay particular attention to southern exposures. Disconnect your hose from the faucet and bring it inside before the temperatures drop below freezing in the evening.
 
Trees & Shrubs
Knock down heavy snows from your shrubs and tree branches by gently pushing up with a broom.

It is very important to water your trees, shrubs, perennial and bulb beds
every 4-6 weeks throughout the winter
. If dry soil freezes, there is a good chance there will be root damage and the trees and shrubs will suffer. Your plants will better resist insect and disease problems next year .

Protect tender shrubs, like rhododendrons, azaleas, hollies, etc. during the winter months from drying
winds by providing a barrier made from a frame wrapped in burlap and placed on the north and west
sides of each shrub.
Make good use of our winter snow by shoveling the snow onto your shrubs, trees and perennial beds.
 
Consider a live Christmas tree. Remember to bring it into the house for only 5 days. After Christmas, put
it into the garage for a few days, then move the tree back outside in a protected spot and plant it in the spring. Be sure to keep it watered.
 

Indoor Plants
Now that our windows and doors will be shut for the winter, houseplants in the home are a very important air cleaner. Plants remove air pollutants from our homes and offices.
 
Move houseplants away from heat vents if you have forced air heating. Houseplants will benefit from added humidity. Humidifiers are great, but you can also use a pebble tray. Take an oversized saucer, add pebbles, and fill halfway with water. Then place your plant on the pebbles. As the water evaporates, add more, but don't let the plant sit in water. Be alert to cold drafts as well, especially for ficus, philodendron, begonias, and gardenias.

Poinsettias prefer a bright area away from cold drafts and heat vents. Keep them from direct sun. Never allow the soil of you poinsettias to dry out completely, but be sure they are not constantly wet or sitting
in water inside the foil wrap. 
Be careful of locations where the hot afternoon sun may shine directly on the colorful bracts and cause the color to fade. Temperatures ideally should not exceed 70° during the day, or fall below 65° at night.
 
Shorter days mean less growth for houseplants. Water only when your plants require it, but water the same amount when you water. Use fertilizer at half strength every other time you water until mid March. Try to let your plants receive as much light as possible during the darker winter days.

Cyclamen are great plants for brightening your home during the holidays. They prefer a cool dry and bright place. The pink, red, white or maroon flowers will continue for weeks.

AmaryllisDutch amaryllis bulbs will bloom 7-10 weeks after planting. African amaryllis will bloom in as little as 4 weeks. Choose a pot about 2" wider than the bulb and one that is heavy enough to keep from tipping. Fill the pot part way with potting mix. Set the bulb so that the top 1/3 of the bulb will be above the top of the soil when you fill the pot to 1" below the top edge of the pot. Give the plant about 4 hours of bright light a day. Plant every 2 weeks for a spectacular color show all winter.


Paperwhites are bulbs that can be planted indoors every two weeks for continuous flowering through the holidays. Paperwhites come in white or yellow and are very fragrant.

Norfolk Island pines make great living Christmas trees and wonderful houseplants after the holidays. Be sure you use very lightweight ornaments and cool burning twinkle lights when you decorate these beautiful trees.
Keep these plants away from drafts and heating vents.

To bring fragrance into your home during the holidays don't forget herbs. Rosemary, lavender and thyme along with many other herbs will add a delightful aroma to the home. Use the wonderful scent of fresh greens and pine trees to add to the traditional holiday atmosphere.
 
 

Birds
Echter's offers many seed mixes for all types of birds who are seed eaters. Individual types of seed are also popular and there is a great selection to choose from. Sunflower seed, safflower seed, peanuts, and nyjer seed are among the favorite choices. Thoroughly clean feeders once a month.

Insect-eating birds such as flickers and nuthatches have a taste for suet rather than seed. Suet is a great energy source for birds in cold weather.
 
Keep the squirrels away from your bird feeders by offering them corn on the cob, peanuts and Squirrel Food. Let the birds have the seed.
 
Put your leftover Christmas tree outside and decorate it with strings of popcorn and cranberries to feed the birds. Add pine cones which have been spread with peanut butter and rolled in bird seed. The birds will love you.
 
  
Cut Christmas Trees
When purchasing your fresh Christmas tree, be sure to bring a blanket or tarp to cover the tree if you are tying it to the top of your car. This will protect your tree from drying out on the way home.
 
Cut 1 to 2 inches off the trunk of your tree and immediately place it in water. Add some tree preservative
to the water.
 
Check the water level daily. A tree may “drink” a gallon or more of water each day. If the water reservoir gets dry, even once, the tree cut will seal and may not take up water again.
 
Place the tree away from heat sources, including fireplaces, wood stoves, heat vents and direct sunlight.
 
Always turn tree lights off when leaving home or going to sleep.
 
Don’t forget the wonderful fragrance of fresh wreaths, greens, garlands to add to the traditional holiday atmosphere. A spray of Wilt Stop will prolong the freshness of your greens and your Christmas tree.
 
 
Home & Patio
If the deer repellents you have been using aren’t working anymore, try switching products. Deer can become accustomed to one scent. Switching ingredients is more effective.
 

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