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    Houseplant Care During Winter

    By Donna Dawson, Master Gardener, icangarden.com
    12/20/2012 9:46:48 AM

    Houseplant care during the winter can be a real problem...fungus gnats and other little critters love to munch away and create all kinds of problems...we have some houseplant care tips for you this week. As well general gardening tips and what to do with snow on your trees and shrubs. Also look at the contest that Fiskars is running...pretty cool! You can also read up on the new floral tools.

    With the holidays past and New Year's resolutions in place the cold days of winter generate a renewed interest in our houseplants. Indoor plants are partial to warm temperatures and long days. We attempt to fool them with our furnace-driven warm weather and the luminescent lengthening of our typical winter days. But despite this, a plant's internal sensors still detect the real conditions outdoors and they shut down for a "long winter's nap".

    Make no attempt to waken plants from dormancy at this time. Their metabolic processes have slowed so they cannot accommodate regular waterings and fertilizing. As daylight increases in late January or early February, plants will respond by producing new shoots. Then we can slowly begin to increase watering and revive plans to re-engage a modest feeding schedule.

    It is a houseplant enthusiast's downfall to satisfy his or her latent gardening instincts by prodding dormant plants with periodic splashes from a watering can. A tropical plant's natural dormancy involves a measure of drought, so resist the urge to keep the soil constantly moist. Allow the plant to consume existing soil water then rest in the dry soil for a few days before watering. Even allowing the plant to wilt would be a definite indication that the plant indeed required water. However this technique should be used only if the plant collection can be constantly monitored.

    Read more here.

    General Garden Tips for January

    When tree and shrub branches bend under the weight of a new snowfall, use a broom to gently brush off the snow. Don't try to remove ice or you might break the branch. It's possible to save a branch that partially splits from the main trunk if you tie it in place and use long screws (coming from each direction, if necessary) to secure it. If done right away, the tree may callous over the wound and heal itself next season, and not split further. Birds deserve clean food surfaces as much as we do. Every few weeks bring the feeders inside and wash them with soap and water into which a little bleach has been added (1 part bleach to 9 parts water). Rinse thoroughly. If you have a heated bird bath, keep it scrubbed and cleaned regularly as well. I keep an old brush handy, just for this purpose whenever I refill the bath.

    Aphids and spider mites may be multiplying like crazy amidst your houseplants, especially if they are grouped close together. Isolate each plant and inspect it closely, with a magnifying glass if necessary. Treat these pests by holding the plant and pot upside down and submerging the foliage in a sink full of soapy water (wrap aluminum foil over the soil to keep it from falling out). In severe cases, spray the plant with insecticidal soap.

    Read more here.

    New Tool Line offers a Bouquet of Benefits for Floral Crafters

    Innovative features prune time and effort from making silk arrangements

    Floral arranging is supposed to be a creative and relaxing pastime - until crafters struggle to cut through a thick wire stem or fumble with a clumsy roll of floral tape. Fiskars-the company known for its iconic orange-handled scissors-brings unprecedented ease of use to a new category of crafters with a 2010 collection of tools that streamline and simplify every step of creating floral arrangements. The tools will be featured at the 2010 Craft & Hobby Association show at Booth #4041.

    The line-up includes powerful stem cutting tools like the Professional Grade Stem Cutter which requires 4 times less force to cut artificial stems than the standard wire cutter. The table-top design, unlike anything else on the market, needs only a one-handed push on the handle to slice through stems up to ∏" thick. The other hand remains free to hold stems steady for more accurate cuts. There is no other tool like it on the market. The Fiskars Floral Multi-Snip cuts smaller stems, ribbon or thin wire and has titanium coated blades that resist wear and corrosion. Floral Take-Apart Shears are ideal for fresh stems and come apart for easy clean up in the dishwasher.

    Fiskars Floral Tape Dispenser helps keep floral tape clean, features a clean tear edge and makes wrapping floral stems less cumbersome. The multi-purpose 3-in-1 Fastener, combines and streamlines three essential tasks in one device. The unique fastener includes all the components and supplies needed to crimp ribbon to make bows, band artificial flowers to create a bouquet, and fasten picks to stems.

    Time saving and convenient, Fiskars Portable Glue Gun provides cord-free crafting on the go or quick fixes when electricity isn't available. Natural-looking Wrapped Wire is on a roll with a built-in cutter to instantly trim wire as needed.

    For more information about Fiskars' new line of floral tools visit www.fiskars.com and enter to WIN. Contest Closes February 20th, 2011