Projects for December

 

Here it is December, another year has gone past and we hope it was a good one for you and that next year will be even better.  You don't really think of December as being a time to garden but quite a few things need to be done.  So here goes:

Lawns

Keep the leaves raked up - they smother your grass, promote disease and give insects a place to hide.  Those leaves are a valuable resource for a compost pile. A rake is better exercise but a leaf blower is much faster to get those leaves moving.

Christmas Decoration

Light pruning of evergreen shrubs will yield gorgeous (free) material to deck your halls. Magnolia leaves make awesome wreaths.  Nandina and holly berries are super looking in bouquets, roping and centerpieces.  Of course, every one knows what to do with mistletoe!  To keep your greenery looking fresh, spray with acrylic floor wax.

Houseplant

Check plants for insects.  Mealy bugs and spider mites are real problems on indoor plants.  Because of heated air most plants would love a light misting on their leaves. Remember to rotate the pots so plants do not bend toward the light.

Bulbs

You still have time to plant spring blooming bulbs - if you can find good ones.  Check that bulbs are not sprouted and firm to the touch.  Amaryllis and paperwhites can be forced to bloom with just a little bit of effort.  After they finish blooming, cut off the flower stalk not the green leaves.  Tend to the amaryllis like any other house plant until April, then you can plant it in your yard.  Allow paperwhites to dry out and the foliage to turn yellow and die back or go ahead and plant the bulbs in your garden now.

Christmas Trees

If you use a live or cut tree, be sure you keep it watered and as cool as possible.  Plant live trees after a few days in the garage or other unheated space.  Instead of taking your cut tree to the recycling center think about making the birds a Christmas tree.  String popcorn and cranberries on dental floss and you have garland.  Cut apples and oranges and hang on the tree.  Also make suet balls.  the birds will love it and you as well.

Trees and Shrubs

Winter is the dormant season for deciduous plants (those that loose their leaves) and is a great time to plant and transplant them.  When all the leaves are off the plants, dig as large a root ball as you can manage.  Outside the dripline is recommended and keeping as many roots as possible will reduce transplant shock.  Replant the shrub/ tree at the same depth as it was.  Back fill and tamp down.  Do not cover the root ball with dirt.  Water well to settle soil then add root stimulator to the root ball.  Since plants need to regrow roots for the first year you should watch their water needs and water weekly as needed.