♦ Watch for camellia buds that have brown spots on the edges and then spread to the entire flower. This is petal blight. Remove and destroy any buds showing symptoms. Don’t confuse it with cold damage. It’s a good practice to remove spent flowers from the ground.
♦ January is a good month to plant trees. Do not add fertilizer to planting hole — it could burn the roots.
♦ Fertilize annuals in colder months with a fertilizer high in nitrate nitrogen. Keep pansies and violas dead headed.
♦ If squirrels are digging bulbs, cover the bulbs with 1-inch wire mesh so foliage can grow through. Then place mulch over wire.
♦ Pull up winter weeds now before they form seeds.
♦ If a few, consecutive warm days have caused your bulbs to nose out from under protective mulch, plan to thicken the mulch layer as soon as cold weather returns to prevent freezing by exposure.
♦ Analyze last year’s planting, fertilizing and spraying records. Make notations to reorder successful varieties.
♦ Keep pansies and violas dead headed.
Did you receive an amaryllis for the holidays? Keep it in a sunny window. After it is done flowering, the plant will produce leaves and with proper care can rebloom.
Remove and destroy bagworm bags from affected trees especially if seen on evergreens. Each “bag” contains hundreds of bagworm eggs that will hatch in the spring and start feeding on your cedar and arborvitae plants.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
♦ Plant B & B, bare-root, and container-grown fruit.
♦ Water newly planted fruit trees thoroughly, even if the ground is wet, so the soil around the roots will settle.
♦ Prune grapes in January or February. If this job is left too late in the season, bleeding from cut ends will occur. Train them onto a one or two wire fence.
♦ Don’t plant strawberries or figs until February or March.
♦ Some mail order seed companies offer pelleted seed of lettuce, carrot, and a few other small-seeded crops. Pelleted seed has a special coating to make them larger. This is especially valuable for children and gardeners with arthritic hands, weak eyesight, or poor coordination. Wide spacing of seed helps eliminate thinning. When using pelleted seed, plant in moist soil and keep it moist because the coating must dissolve before the seed can germinate.
♦ Organize your seeds for inside planting. Take each seed packet and count back from the last frost (April 14) taking into consideration the number of days for germination.
♦ ♦ Remove brown raspberry and blackberry canes that bore fruit last year; tie up green canes for this year’s fruit.
Spray dormant oil on fruit trees, per label instructions.
Prune apple and pear trees. Remove dead limbs first, then the pencil-sized, vertical “water sprouts”.
♦ Sterilize tools, pots, and anything you use around your plants. Use one-part household bleach to nine parts water. Soak for about 15 minutes, rinse well and let dry.
♦ Protect liquid insecticides from cold weather to preserve their effectiveness. If any product is stored below the manufacturer’s suggested minimum storage temperature, it loses its potency. The most important factor in determining if the product is usable is the complete absence of crystals. If crystals remain after the product returns to room temperature, do not use it. Dispose of it according to the directions on the label.
♦ Chop unwanted kudzu, English ivy, and bamboo to the ground. Follow with herbicide on the new leaves in April.
♦ Clean indoor plant leaves with a damp rag. Sandwich the leaf between folds of cloth and wipe gently. Change the cloth for each plant to avoid transferring insects or diseases.
♦ Make sure houseplants are misted and not touching windows. Cut back on fertilizer except for plants you are trying to force to bloom.
♦ Indian meal moths are a common problem of grains and grain products, cereals, bird seeds, dried pet food, etc. You may see adult moths flying, larvae crawling or webbing. Always check bulk foods prior to purchase for signs of meal moth infestation.
Happy New Year and best of gardening success from the Cherokee County Master Gardeners!