Mike McGrath, wtop.com
WASHINGTON – Brrrrr! Just about everyone in the area has been waking up to freezing cold mornings lately — frigid cars and sidewalks that can get slippery with just the slightest bit of wetness. Luckily, the area is not supposed to get rain/sleet/snow until next weekend, making this the perfect time for a review of the basic rules of plant safe ice-melting. It’s the perfect time for you to make sure you have an alternative ice melt product on hand, one that’s gentler on plants and surfaces than mean old rock salt.
You’re looking for magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride or mixtures of those chemicals. Just be sure to read the package carefully as many seeming “alternative” products are mostly plant-killing rock salt with a dusting of something like calcium chloride so they can use the “good name” in big print on the label.
Big clue: If you see the letters NACl (or NaCl) on the package, pass it by. That’s rock salt wearing a dress and high heels.
Lawn-sparing de-icing tactics
Are you prepared to de-ice your walk without killing your lawn and landscape plants?
Get your amaryllis to re-bloom
Did you have a big amaryllis blooming for the holidays? Well, now is the time to try and get it ready for a second round of flowers.
Preserve your poinsettias
Yes, poinsettias are perennial if protected from frost. So if you want to play around with this fun tropical plant and try and keep it alive for next Christmas:
Protect your pansies
If you have pansies in the ground outside, be sure to save cut Christmas tree branches for gentle cover if heavy snow or ice is predicted. Cover the plants with the springy boughs before the weather event and then uncover them when the mess has melted.
Pansies can take the cold, but can be crushed under the weight of heavy ice or show. Bouncy branches are the perfect pansy protection.
But toss your (stinky!) paperwhites!
Did you have pretty paperwhites blooming in your home over the holidays, and wonder what to do with the little bulbs now that those stinky, stinky flowers are gone?
Toss them into your compost pile.
Although they are a form of daffodil, paperwhites are tropical plants that won’t survive our winter weather outdoors. And, if you displayed them for the holidays in the typical pot filled with water and stones, they don’t have any resources left to build new blooms.
It is possible for really talented gardeners to provide the rigid and grueling conditions required for rebloom, but it isn’t easy. And it requires that they be grown in rich soil the first time around.
So do yourself a favor and just toss this Christmas plant after the flowering show is over. Besides, did you really want to experience that stinky smell again?
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