What to do Now
December- Keep It Fresh
As you take home your Christmas tree and greens, here are some tips to keep them fresh as long as possible:
• Shorten the period the tree is inside the house. This is especially true for live trees. No more than 10 days inside for a live tree.
Keep a cut tree in shade and in water before bringing it inside. Use a tree preservative like 'Prolong' in the water.
• Many wreaths and cut greens can be re-hydrated by soaking overnight in water periodically.
• Keep wreaths and greens out of direct sun.
• Use an anti-transpirant like 'WiltPruf' to slow moisture loss.
Also, this year as an alternative to the Alberta Spruce in a container, try placing a large pot on the front porch filled with an assortment of cut greens like Magnolia, Winterberry and needled evergreen branches for winter color and interest.
December & January Gardening Tips
Late fall and winter are a difficult time for houseplants. The reduced light and humidity can take their toll this time of year. Locate your plants where they will receive the most light and mist them daily or place them on humidity trays. Your plants will also need less water and do not fertilize at this time of year unless you are using grow lights. Inspect plants for insects each time you water. Insect pests can rapidly increase in number inside the home. Use Espoma Earth-tone insect control if insects or mites are present.
Plant newly purchased amaryllis bulbs now – the top inch of the bulb should be above the soil and there should be 2 inches between the bulb and the edge of the pot. Water well and do not water again until leaves appear. They will bloom in 6 to 7 weeks.
Water cyclamen by placing the pot in a dish of water for 30 minutes – this prevents rotting of the tubers. Keep in a bright cool area.
Water the poinsettia thoroughly when the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch. Discard the excess water accumulated in the saucer. Do not allow the plant to sit in water. Place the newly acquired poinsettia in a bright sunny window but avoid any area where there is a draft or sudden fluctuations in temperature. Do not allow the leaves to touch cold windowpanes. The poinsettia flower bracts last longer when daytime temperatures are from 60 to 70 degrees F. and there is a slight drop in temperature at night. Thus, the plant does best in a cool room. Continue to fertilize with a water soluble fertilizer.
The heavy frost you see in the morning can be beautiful, but try not to walk on the lawn when it's covered with this frost. The crunching noise you hear is from the ice crystals breaking, but the blades of grass also "break" and the tips will turn brown. Although this damage is not permanent it will be noticeable until the grass begins to green up in spring. So minimize the traffic on the lawn on frosty mornings to keep it looking green in the winter.
Perennials and annuals:
Finish all bulb planting by mid December. Apply repellants to pansies if deer and rabbits are present.
Trees and Shrubs:
Thin-barked trees can suffer from sun damage during the winter. Sun shining on the south or southwest side of tree trunks can warm the tissues and stimulate vascular activity. Rapidly falling temperatures at night can then cause tissue injury. Wrapping the trunk with a white plastic trunk guard can prevent this injury. Young trees like upright Japanese Maples, Redbud and fruit trees are most susceptible. Making sure your plants were well watered in October and November can help prevent damage.
Continue to apply deer repellants to evergreens.
Apply Wilt-proof to broadleaved evergreens – do not apply to boxwood or needled evergreens.
Store pesticides in an area where they will not be subjected to freezing and thawing this winter. Oil based pesticides can separate and the properties can change and become less stable.