December 9, 1994

Prevent Root Rot Problems on Houseplants

Most of the problems that occur on indoor plants are not caused by infectious plant diseases, but are related to improper cultural practices or unfavorable environmental conditions. Cultural and environmental factors relate to moisture, light intensity, growing medium, pot size, temperature, humidity, fertilization, air circulation, and other factors.

Snow and Ice can Damage Trees and Shrubs

While we have had a mild fall, cold wintry weather undoubtedly lies ahead. Heavy amounts of snow and ice on the branches of trees and shrubs can cause considerable damage. Multi-stemmed evergreens, such as junipers and arborvitae, and weak-wooded deciduous trees, such as Siberian elm, green ash, and silver maple, are most susceptible to branch breakage. Improper removal of ice and snow can increase the amount of damage to trees and shrubs.

Recycling Christmas Trees

Iowans will buy several hundred thousand Christmas trees this holiday season. After the holidays, there are several ways to dispose or recycle your tree. (Before recycling your Christmas tree, remove all tinsel and ornaments.) Some suggestions are:

Place the tree in the yard or garden for use by birds and other wildlife. The branches provide shelter from strong winds and cold. Food can be supplied by hanging fruit slices, seed cakes, or suet bags on its branches. You can also smear peanut butter and seeds in pine cones and hang them in the tree.

Holiday Cacti

Holiday cacti, commonly called Christmas cacti, Thanksgiving cacti, or Zygocactus, are one the most popular flowering plants at this time of year. The "real" Christmas cactus is an interspecific hybrid of Schlumbergera truncata and Schlumbergera russelliana. Its correct Latin name is Schlumbergera xbuckleyi. This hybrid originated in England about 150 years ago. Christmas cacti have segments with rounded margins, flowers have ribbed ovaries and purplish-brown anthers. Most commercial cultivars of holiday cacti are really Schlumbergera truncata.