Coles County Yard and Garden

Coles County Yard and Garden

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Gardening in Central Illinois

by Marsha Overton, Coles County Master Gardener

Well—Happy New Year everybody. If you are like me you are probably wondering where did 2012 go.. It seems like yesterday we were awaiting the year 2000. Lots of "dooms day" predictions were floating around before that year for sure. But we can now say we have made it to 2013---- I did a lot of decorating for the holidays so now I have a lot of 'taking down" to do. We get one thing done then we turn around and there is something else coming to do...For all of us –that something else is our "Spring into Gardening Event". We are expecting a very interesting program. I am sure for those of you who have attended in the past will agree it really perks us up going into the month of March. This year we are mixing it up a little. We have two fantastic speakers lined up again. We are then going to have a very prestigious panel to answer your gardening questions. Of course we will also have our wonderful "silent auction" tables, refreshments, and even a few items which you can purchase.

This year our "Spring into Gardening" will be on Saturday February 23rd (always the last Saturday in February) at the LifeSpan Center between Charleston & Mattoon IL (11021E CR 800N, Charleston). Registration will open January 11th at which time you may register on-line at or by phoning the Coles County Extension Office at 217/345-7034. Watch for next week's News Release and all the details!


Q) Our trees took a beating from some ice and snow, should we treat the cut surfaces with sound dressings or paint?

A) Tree paint and dressings are of cosmetic value. They help hide the light- colored scars. However, the paints and dressings actually increase decay by increasing the collection and retention of moisture and by encouraging insect activity. Also, paints and dressings slow the wound-healing process. Thus, pruning paints and dressings do not help the damaged trees.

Q) When and how should my snow covered, possibly storm-damaged trees be reshaped? A) Storm damaged trees need reshaping as soon as possible after the injury. If severe pruning is needed, the tree recovers faster if repair work is completed well before re-growth starts next spring. To remove the snow use an upward motion with a broom, gently remove heavy snow accumulation on shrubbery especially arborvitae. Remove snow before it freezes. Any branches split from ice or snow should be pruned promptly to prevent further damage.

Q) Is there anything I can do about the branches on my trees that have been bent out of shape by the ice and snow?

A) If branches have been bent out of shape, they can be propped up or tied to higher branches in the spring before new growth appears. Within a month or two, the limbs should be set and anchors or props can be removed.



  • Order seed and nursery catalogs.
  • Plan your spring garden layout.
  • Attend any garden schools, meetings, and workshops that might be in the area to get new ideas.
  • To reduce damage to surrounding plants, use calcium chloride rather than sodium chloride to melt driveway and sidewalk ice.


  • Holiday evergreen boughs can be used to mulch perennial gardens.
  • Mid-January start seeds for warm seasons annuals such as begonias and geraniums. (If you enjoy starting your own plants from seed). I personally would rather someone else start them so that all I have to do is plant them!)
  • Sow pansy seed indoors.


  • Repot houseplants if necessary.
  • Remove fading flowers from amaryllis. Allow stems to wither before removing. Keep the leaves growing to replenish the bulb.
  • Give houseplants a bi-weekly shower to remove dust and insects.
  • Do not fertilize houseplants this month unless plants have a supplemental light. Insecticidal soap sprays can be safely used on most houseplants to kill many insects.

TIP: Are your house plants getting enough light?

Symptoms of poor light: 1) New leaves are small. 2) Long, weak stems. 3) Yellowing leaves. 4) No new growth.

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