University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
PEST PATROLS AND OTHER DECEMBER
Charlie Nardozzi, Horticulturist
Leonard Perry, UVM Extension
houseplant pests, keeping holidays plants cool, and cutting back
some of the gardening activities for this month.
Plants that have
summered outside may be hiding some hitchhiking mealybugs and scale
spread to other plants. Periodically take a close look at the main
leaves (as when you water). Mealybugs are somewhat easier to spot
because they have a white cottony coating. Scale have a hard, often
shell-like covering. Both can be controlled in the early stages by
off with Q-tips dipped in alcohol. A severely infested plant will
need a spray
with lightweight horticultural oil.
off houseplant foliage can keep both the dust and pesky insects at
pots in the shower for a few minutes (with you if you like) or rinse
the sink. With plants too heavy to move, wipe off the leaves with a
cyclamen, and most other blooming holiday plants will last longer if
the cool side and out of direct sunlight. If you wish to make sure
don't fade before a big event, you can keep the plants in a cool
room or part
of the house (preferably above 50 degrees F) for a few days and
bring them out
the day you need them.
Cyclamen in particular prefer cool temperatures, so
keep them back from south-facing windows that heat up during the
day. Cyclamen also prefer even moisture, so don’t
allow to wilt and definitely don’t keep too wet or they may rot.
You’ll find these in stores and at florists
in many colors including reds, pinks, purple and white,
and in both large- and small-flowered.
brought in your annual geranium plants this fall and are growing
this winter, chances are they’re getting leggy by now. The cloudy,
of November and December don't provide enough light for these plants
Cut back the plants to about one foot tall. They will resprout and
in the longer days of late winter.
Gardeners on your holiday gift list might appreciate a
decorative basket or pot filled with handy gardening items. Plus
they're fun to put together. Some items to consider
are pruners, an ergonomic trowel, fragrant soap, hand lotion, seeds,
paperwhite narcissus bulbs, and attractive thermometer or rain
gauge. There are many
specialty gloves to choose from, including ones with padding,
insulated, or with long sleeves.
are many garden books to choose from for gift ideas, both
ones and ones to inspire. With many
interested now in growing their own fruits and vegetables, consider
references by the authors—The Fruit Gardener’s
Bible and Northeast Fruit and
Other gardening tips for this month include buying a
locally-made evergreen swag or roping for decorating, visiting a
farm for a nice outing with family or friends, making sure foil on
holiday plants have holes for drainage into saucers, visiting
see new colors of poinsettias, and using plant-safe deicing products
and drives. You’ll find the latter
listed as such in hardware and other stores.
Make sure when bringing poinsettias home to give them plenty of
protection with paper bags or “sleeves”, and keep in a warm car.
They’re very sensitive to cold and cold
drafts near doors and windows.
(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist,
author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com).