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Georgia Consumer: Keep hibiscus plant you placed indoors in sunniest, most humid spot
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Question: I was told by a friend to bring my hibiscus in the house for the winter. I placed it in the bathroom where there is a lot of light. It’s still blooming and I want to know how to care for it as a houseplant. I can see some brown spots on the leaves as if something has been eating them. What do I do about that?

Answer: Since you’ve already moved your plant indoors, place it in the sunniest spot you have. Keep it out of drafts and keep the humidity around it high if possible (bathrooms tend to have high humidity). Expect some yellowing of leaves in protest of the move. Reduce watering and fertilizing as the plant’s growth slows. If these conditions are met, it should keep blooming through the winter. Keep an eye open for any pest problems that might arise, and use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil as directed to take care of them.

Q: I planted shrubs in the summer of this year. I bought some fertilizer but haven’t used it yet. Should I feed the shrubs this fall or wait until early spring?A: Wait until early spring just as new growth is beginning. Plants fertilized now could put out a flush of tender new growth that is susceptible to frost damage. Also, avoid fertilizing trees and shrubs stressed by drought. If water is unavailable, do not fertilize at all.

Q: My mums are turning brown. What should I do to protect them?A: Once the chrysanthemum blooms turn brown, cut back the plants that are well established as perennials in your garden, leaving behind four inch stubs. Throw a two to three inch layer of pine straw or loose bark mulch over the plants to protect little shoots that emerge early from winter’s cold weather.

Q: Is it safe to use a kerosene heater?

A: When properly ventilated, yes. Ensure that there is airspace of three feet all around the heater, if it is a convection type and three feet around the top, front, right and left side of radiant type heaters.

Q: What type of kerosene do I use in my heater?

A: Use 1-K KEROSENE. This is the most important aspect of kerosene heat. Pure "lighting grade" kerosene is recommended. Not all kerosene is alike. The type to be used is called grade 1-K low sulfur. It is top grade kerosene with a low amount of sulfur — 0.04% or less by weight. Kerosene is available at most gasoline stations. If this is not the case in your area, look in the yellow pages under OIL-FUEL. Under that listing you should find names of people you may telephone and ask if they have 1-K kerosene. If they say no, don’t hesitate to ask if they can point you to someone who does.

Consumer alert

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Hunter Fan Co., announced a voluntary recall of some 84,000 Warm Mist CareFree Humidifiers. Consumers should immediately stop using and unplug the recalled humidifiers.

Water used in the humidifier can leak into the unit’s electrical compartment, posing a fire hazard. Hunter has received four reports of incidents involving a water leak, including one report of a fire resulting in minor property damage. No injuries have been reported.

This recall involves Warm Mist CareFree humidifiers sold in white and black with blue or green tinted water tanks.

"Hunter" and "NiteGlo" are printed on the humidifier. Model numbers are listed on a white label on the bottom of the humidifier. Model numbers and tank sizes are listed below.

36200; Carefree® Humidifier Warm Mist; 2 Gallon; White plastic with a blue-tinted water tank

35201, 36201 Carefree® Humidifier Warm Mist; 2 Gallon; White plastic with a blue-tinted water tank

35202, 36204; CareFree® Humidifier Warm Mist; 2 Gallon; White plastic with a blue-tinted water tank

35203, 36203, 37203; CareFree® Humidifier Warm Mist; 2 Gallon; White plastic with a green-tinted water tank

35207, 36207; CareFree® Humidifier Warm Mist; 2 Gallon; White plastic with a blue-tinted water tank

35253, 36253; CareFree® Humidifier Warm Mist; 2.5 Gallon; Black plastic with a blue-tinted water tank

Humidifers were sold at Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, discount and hardware stores nationwide, and through mail order catalogs and Web retailers from September 2005 to February 2007 for between $40 and $65.

Consumers should contact Hunter Fan to receive a free replacement humidifier or refund. For additional information, contact Hunter Fan Co. toll-free at 877-288-1145 anytime, or visit the firm’s Web site at