December Task

Gardening tasks for December

  • Plant spring blooming perennials such as foxglove, columbine, salvia, and gaillardia. Clean, sharpen and oil garden tools.
  • Plant dormant asparagus crowns.
  • Choose a living Christmas Tree. No place to put it? Donate it to the Master Gardeners. We will find the appropriate placement for it.
  • If you plan to purchase a cut tree, re-cut the trunk 2” from the base and plunge into a bucket of tepid water to keep the wound from sealing over. Never let water in the tree stand dry out. Check the tree daily for dry needles and if found, discard the tree immediately.
  • Plant bare-root roses found in garden centers.
  • Clean and sharpen lawn mowers and drain the fuel.
  • Plant pansy, ornamental cabbage and kale, dianthus and snapdragons.
  • Spray dormant trees, shrubs, raspberries and other deciduous plants with dormant spray to control over-wintering insects and diseases.
  • Prune evergreens to shape. Cut foliage and canes from existing plants like lantana.
  • Plant hardy trees and shrubs.
  • Turn and water compost bins or piles. Watch for steam rising and you’ll know its working!
  • Prepare new beds by weeding, tilling and adding organic materials. Use those leaves that are so abundant this time of year.
  • Remove wind-broken, dead, freeze damaged, diseased or insect injured wood and branches from trees and shrubs. Avoid severely pruning but never leave stubs. These do not heal properly and invite disease and insect infestations.
  • Do not prune roses now.
  • Water lawns and trees if it doesn’t rain. The winds dry out the plants and the ground. Mow leaves or gather for the compost piles. A thick layer of leaves on the lawn just invites disease problems.
  • Peek at all those gardening catalogs and order seed for planting later.
  • If you haven’t done so yet, clean out the vegetable gardens and work in organic matter into the soil.
  • Birds will need more attention now until spring. Keep feeders clean and filled and be sure to provide water and grit beds. When it freezes break the ice in the birdbaths. Titmouse, Goldfinch, Chickadees, sparrows and many other birds will show at your feeders and birdbaths. Be sure to provide an assortment of seeds like thistle, millet, safflower and sunflower. Build a “Gorp Log” filled with a peanut mixture. For details contact the Hood County Extension Office at 817 579-3280 for information
  • Transplant perennials only if they are completely dormant.
  • Wait to prune fruit trees.
  • Test your soil and make the recommended amendments. Soil test bags and instructions are available at the Hood County Extension Office at 817 579-3280.
  • Dream of spring!
  • Water houseplants.
  • Take hardwood cuttings.
  • Check the bulbs you are forcing. Bring out into bright indirect sunlight. Hopefully they will bloom by Christmas.
  • Put away or clean and cover outdoor furniture. All wooden furniture will benefit from oiling with linseed oil.
  • Do not store firewood in the house since insects harbor there. Store outside and bring in as needed. Never treat firewood with insecticides.
  • Buy Christmas cactus, cyclamen, kalanchoe and poinsettia to brighten up the home. Remove all foil wraps and repot in good potting soil.
  • Walk around your gardens. Observe frosts patterns-where frost kills, where it doesn’t- and write down the information. You may find plants thriving in surprise places indicating microclimates. Use this information for future plantings. If a freeze is predicted, water all plants. Moist soil absorbs and radiates heat better than dry soil. Be very careful not to get foliage wet.
  • Root prune trees for transplanting in January.

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