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Keep your garden fresh and insect-free
Jan 08, 2015
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Keep your garden fresh and insect-free during winter.


Winter is a pleasant time for gardeners with plants seeming to need very little maintenance. However, there are a few things gardeners should keep in mind during the season.


To begin with, don’t take insect infestations and fungal attacks lightly. “This may happen to plants at any time of the year. But if an attack happens during winter, it could become severe in no time,” says Prof. D. Narasimhan, associate professor, Department of Botany, Centre for Floristic Research, Madras Christian College. “For instance, drumstick trees and Parijat plants are particularly prone to kambli poochi (woolly caterpillar) attacks, and it often spreads to the entire garden,” says Lakshmi Sriram, a city-based horticulturist. Also, watch out for white mealy bugs (aphids), especially on hibiscus plants.

And since some tiny worms attack the underside of leaves of many plants, when you water the plants, turn the leaf over and check for a pest attack. To avoid pest attacks, you can give your plants a periodic preventive spray of a neem-based deterrent at least once every 15 days, and more often, if you see signs of trouble.


Keeping track of the pace of plants’ growth in this season is important. Don’t panic if the growth of some of your plants seems to have slowed down. “With the exception of some varieties that include bulbous plants like the onion and plants like Barleria (better known as the December Poo) which revel in the long cold winter nights and thrive in this season, the growth of many plants slows down during winter,” adds Prof. Narasimhan. The growth spurt will start around February, when the temperature in our part of the world inches upwards again. However, Lakshmi has a different observation. “From my experience, the period between November and February is the best to start growing new plants. Growth takes off during this season if you keep watering to a minimum and offset the coldness factor,” she says. Though it is not mandatory, you might give your plants an extra helping of manure during winter to boost their growth.


During winter, the soil’s moisture content stays high, the climate is cold, and solar radiation is less harsh. So, the excess water lying on the ground is not going to be vaporised automatically. Therefore, keep watering to a minimum and ensure that your potted plants and plant beds do not experience any water stagnation during winter. “Watering on alternate days will suffice,” say experts.