Fight the Winter Blues
~ February 1, 2011
Reduced light levels and long cold days can take their toll on us. Resist the temptation to close the curtains and hibernate until spring. There are many ‘gardening’ activities to keep you busy.
The air in your home can be very dry during the winter. Dry air often leads to the occurrence of spider mites on your tropical plants. Spider mites can be green, brown or red and they are difficult to see without a magnifying glass. The first symptom of spider mite damage is deformed leaves. They will turn yellow and become dehydrated. Once the leaves turn brown they will fall off the plant. If you spray the plant with water you will see the small webs created by the mites. The most effective treatment for spider mites is misting the plant with water and spraying with Green Earth Insecticidal Soap daily for a couple of weeks. Spraying with water will help increase humidity in the air around your plant.
The #1 question I hear this time of year: “How do I look after an amaryllis when it is finished blooming?
Once your Amaryllis has finished blooming it requires some attention. Cut the flower stalk back to about 2″ in height. Allow the leaves to continue to grow and water when the soil feels dry. This will allow the leaves to produce energy which the bulb will store for future blooms. In the spring you can plant your Amaryllis (and the pot) in your garden. Find a location with partial shade and water during periods of drought. Fertilize regularly with a high phosphate liquid plant fertilizer. In late September bring the pot indoors and cut back the foliage. Dry the bulb for 2 weeks at 65 degrees F and then store for about 10 weeks in a cool, dry, dark place. At the end of this storage period you will need to repot your Amaryllis bulb in fresh potting mix and start the cycle again.
Feed The Birds!
Look after your feathered friends. Watching birds in your backyard is a great form of entertainment year round. As the snow piles up outside don’t forget to fill your bird feeder on a regular basis. Remember that birds also need a supply of fresh water throughout the winter. A bird bath heater can be installed to prevent the water from freezing. I recommend that you use quality bird seed. When we developed the Mark’s Choice line of bird seed we took our time and made sure that we were including only the most attractive bird seed varieties in each bag. We also purchase our seed from reliable, Canadian sources. Check out the full line of Mark’s Choice birdseed mixes (http://www.markcullen.com/buyers_guide/markchoice_products3.htm). You will attract lots of birds and enjoy hours of entertainment outside your window. Be sure to use fresh food and keep your feeder clean. Watch for ice build-up and clear snow away from ports.
Believe it or not Canada Blooms is only a few weeks away….Wed. March 16th to Sun. March 20th at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place Toronto. I will be there with my buddy Denis Flanagan at 11:30 a.m. to help get you started (we are not there Sunday). Come on by and say Hi! For discounted tickets go to http://www.canadablooms.com/.