December Garden Tips
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- When choosing a cut Christmas tree, gently pull a branch through your fingers. Few, if any, green needles should come off in your hand.
- Rake the last of the fall leaves from your lawn. If you leave a pile of wet, matted leaves now, you’ll have big dead spots in the lawn next spring.
- House plants that loose leaves are reacting to insufficient light or a drafty site. Can you move yours to a better place in your house? Bright, not direct light is best.
- Store garden tools neatly for the winter –don’t pile them in a heap. Spray metal surfaces with a lubricant like WD-40 to thwart rust.
- Poke holes in the foil wrapping on pots of holiday plants and set them in individual saucers. Otherwise, accumulated water will cause root rot.
- Fruit trees can be pruned at any time during the winter provided the temperature is above 45F.
- Disconnect water hoses from hose spigots.
- Store water hoses where you won’t be tempted to move them when they’re frozen. A hard-frozen hose is brittle; leaks result if it is flexed when cold.
- Feed birds to help them get through the cold days of winter. Most bird experts recommend black oil sunflower seed for general feeding. Thistle seed and suet cakes attract birds you might not have seen before.
- Don’t leave your lawn mower out in the weather. Water can get in the gas tank and prevent starting next spring. It is best to drain the tank completely or run the mower until it is out of gas.
- Remove faded blooms from amaryllis stalks but allow the leaves to remain. Water only when the soil feels dry.
- Yews, juniper, holly, boxwood, broad-leaf evergreens and many deciduous trees and shrubs can be propagated this month. Dip evergreen cuttings into rooting hormone then stick them into perlite, vermiculite, sand or mix in a cool greenhouse.
- Remove the brown canes of raspberry and blackberry plants. Tie green canes to your trellis wire.
- Sprinkle leaf compost over bulb foliage that has emerged too soon. The green leaves won’t be hurt by the cold but the straw will help hide them.
- Continue to fertilize pansies, snapdragons, ornamental kale, cabbage and other annuals with fertilizer that contains “nitrate nitrogen,” which helps your plants grow and bloom in cold soil.
- Plant woody plants such as native trees, shrubs and vines now.
- Houseplants don’t need many nutrients in the winter. Use houseplant fertilizer at half strength.
- Don’t water houseplants unless the soil feels dry one inch deep.
- Wreaths made from cut greenery will last much longer if kept cold, so plan to use them outdoors. Bring them inside for short periods on special occasions.
- It’s a good time to assess the energy efficiency of your landscape. Do you have evergreen trees or shrubs blocking a window where the sun’s warmth would be welcome? Consider replacing them with deciduous plants that would let sun in during winter but cast cooling shade in summer.