December Gardening Tips


Plant spring-flowering bulbs, if you haven’t already done so.  Be sure that tulips and hyacinths have received 8 to 12 weeks of chilling in your refrigerator prior to planting.

Use cuttings from your yard to decorate for the holidays.  Always remember to use good pruning techniques when taking cuttings—don’t destroy the natural form and beauty of the plant.  Small branches from pine trees provide greenery, and berries from holly or nandina make beautiful accents on any holiday table.

Plants make wonderful gifts for the holidays.  Try a living Christmas tree this year!  Afghan and Piñon pines do well in our area and make wonderful windbreak or landscape trees.  Norfolk Island pines are good small Christmas trees, but they don’t generally tolerate temperatures below 40°F and so must be used only as houseplants.  When selecting a potted Christmas tree make sure that the needles are not too dried out.  Trees that have not received adequate water will not survive very long.

When selecting poinsettias, look for tight yellow flower buds and nicely colored bracts.  Also, make sure that the potting soil is not overly dry.  Poinsettias do not tolerate cold or rapidly changing temperatures.  Keep the plant where temperatures remain above 60°F, and temperatures between 68 and 75°F are ideal.

Prolong the life of holiday season gift plants by providing proper care.  Check to see if the pot wrap has plugged up the bottom drainage hole.  Don’t over water and make sure to discard any water that pools in the bottom of the pot wrap or tray.  Keep plants out of drafts from heating vents and open doorways.  Fertilizer is seldom needed the first few months.

Take advantage of any good weather days to prepare garden beds for spring planting.  Work in any needed organic matter and have beds ready to plant when needed.

Want to start cuttings of your favorite Christmas cactus?  As soon as it has finished blooming, select a section with one to four pads and remove it gently from the plant.  Insert the basal end into a small pot of good quality, moist potting soil.  Place the pot in a bright window, but out of direct sunlight.  Water only as needed.  The cuttings should be rooted in four to six weeks.

Warm-season grasses like Bermuda are beginning to go dormant, but still need to be watered about once a month.   If you have a cool-season grass, such as Fescue, continue to water and fertilize on your normal schedule.


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