Perennials, annuals, and bulbs
Make sure that the canes of your climbing roses and other vining plants
are securely fastened to their supports. Winter winds can whip and
severely damage unprotected plants. Don't tie them so tightly that the
string or twist-tie cuts into the stem. I
recommend using a length of an old nylon stocking because it will
stretch as the plant grows, rather than cutting into the stem, as
string will do.
Mound five to six inches of soil around the bases of your hardy fuchsias and roses. Use soil from another part of the garden, rather than risking damage to the roots by digging around the base of the plant.
Cut Chrysanthemum stems to 2-3 inches from the soil once they have begun to die back.
You can continue to transplant your perennials throughout the fall and winter, as long as they remain dormant.
Tulip bulbs may still be planted in the early part of the month.
Tender bulbs should be dug up and stored in a cool, dark area after first frost.
Be sure that your tender plants are protected from frost.
Mulching with bark, sawdust or straw will help create a blanket of
protection over the root system. Should the weather get suddenly cold,
place burlap, cloth or dark plastic over your tender plants to give them some added protection from the cold. Be sure to remove this covering when the weather has stabilized!.
Shrubs and trees
One of the most asked questions at this time of year is "when can I transplant my shrubs and trees?"
This month and throughout the next several months will be good times to
transplant trees and shrubs. At this time of the year, most ornamentals
have entered into dormancy, and can be safely dug and replanted. The key to transplanting is to dig a large root ball (get as much of the root system as is possible). Equally important, is getting the plant back into the prepared soil as quickly as possible, to keep the roots from drying out. (Only a transplanting fertilizer should be used at this time of the year.) Large trees or shrubs should be staked to protect them from wind whipping during winter storms. Keep
them staked until the roots have a chance to develop and anchor them.
As soon as the leaves fall from fruit trees, shade or flowering trees,
raspberries and other deciduous plants, they can be sprayed for the
first time with a dormant spray. This spraying helps control over-wintering insects and diseases. Apply according to label instructions.
Prune your evergreens to shape.
Fruits and veggies
Cut the tops off your asparagus plants, and add a winter dressing of aged manure to the bed.
Cover strawberries two inches deep with hay or straw.
Secure your raspberry canes to stakes to protect them from wind whipping.
If you haven't already applied a fall or winter type of lawn fertilizer (20-9-9),
now is the time to do it. This encourages good root development and
helps improve the color of the lawn. Lime can also be applied, if
Give your lawn a good raking to lift away accumulations of debris.
Keep leaves raked from the lawn. They should be composted.
Alternatively, you can just mow over them, turning them to a mulch
which adds important nutrients back to the lawn.
Winter heating dries the air out in your home considerably. Help your
house plants survive by misting them or placing the pots on a pebble
filled tray of water to ensure adequate humidity and moisture.
Pot up some spring flowering bulbs
for indoor color during the winter. Store the pots in a cool, dark
place, until new growth emerges from the soil, and then move them to a
Continue to watch for insect or disease damage and take the necessary steps to control the problem.
Odds and ends
Please feed the birds and other small creatures which may not be able to find food due to snow on the ground or other causes. Their
natural food sources have pretty much dried up by this time of the
year. For only a few dollars you can feed an enormous number of birds. You don't have to be a bird watcher to enjoy the feeling that you get when you've helped out one of God's creatures.
Drain your hoses and put them away so they don't freeze and burst.
Continue to watch for insect, slug and snail, or disease damage throughout the garden, and take the necessary steps to control the problem.
Use small stakes or markers where you've planted bulbs or late starting
spring plants in the perennial garden, to avoid disturbing them when
you begin spring soil preparation. If you feel that stakes don't fit
your landscape style.... you might consider marking stones with
fingernail polish or paint, and set them on the planting spot (painted side down)
When you have finished your last mowing of the year, make sure that it
is properly stored. Run it until it is out of fuel.... old gas can turn
to varnish, and severely damage the engine.
Clean and oil your garden tools for winter storage. Place some sand and some oil in a large bucket, then slide your garden tools in and out of the sand.
This will do an excellent job of cleaning them, as well as applying a
light coat of oil to prevent rusting.This is also a good month to
restock any tools that have seen better days, while the prices are
A tip from The 1899 Old Farmer's Almanac "Useful Hints": "Keep all
fruit stones (pits), cooked or uncooked. Dry them slowly in the oven,
put in a large jar, and in winter throw a handful on the fire of an
evening. They will crackle for a moment, send up a bright flame, and
fill the room with a delicious aroma."
Perennials, annuals, and bulbs
If you potted up some bulbs, such as hyacinths, daffodils or tulips, last September for winter forcing, keep an eye on them. Make sure they remain moist, and in the dark until they have established their root systems.
It is possible that they have already filled their containers with
roots and that the new top growth has begun. If this is so, bring them
into the house and set them in a cool room, in indirect light. After a week or so, move them into bright light, and watch them go to town!
Check on any corms and tubers which you dug up, and stored this fall. Remove and discard any which show signs of disease or rot.
Shrubs and trees
Winter rains tend to make you forget about watering your garden.
However, plants and shrubs which are growing beneath large evergreens
or under the eaves of the house, may be bone dry by this time.
Lack of water in the cold winter months can be fatal to many of these
plants. A quick check will let you know if you need to do a little
If there is a sudden drop in the temperature, provide extra protection for your more tender flowering plants like Rhododendrons, Camellias, Azaleas and Daphne. You
can provide temporary, emergency protection by driving in three of four
stakes around the plant, and then simply covering the plant with some
type of cloth, like burlap, a sheet or an old blanket.
Don't let this material come into direct contact with the leaves of the
plant. Remove the cover completely, as soon as the weather moderates.
December is a good month to take cuttings
of rhododendrons, azaleas, and other evergreen shrubs. The cutting
should be taken from new tip growth, and kept in bright light, at about
70 degrees f.
Stay off frozen grass!!!
Glossy leaved house plants such as Philodendrons, Rubber plants, and Palms should be sponged off periodically, to allow them to breathe.
Plants which have fuzzy, textured, or other non-glossy type leaves
should be set in the sink and sprayed gently with room temperature
water, until the dust is cleaned away. Be sure that the foliage is
allowed to dry completely.
Provide your house plants with extra humidity by grouping plants
together, or by setting the pots on leakproof trays filled with
If you successfully kept last years plants alive, and have been keeping it in 14 hours of darkness since September, your Poinsettias and and Christmas cactus should be ready bring back into the living room by December first.
With the proper care, these Christmas plants will remain beautiful for many weeks.
Odds and ends
Take care of our feathered friends! Keep your bird feeder filled, especially when there is snow on the ground.
Don't let your hose freeze and burst. Stretch it out with both ends
open, to allow the water to drain completely. Coil it up and put it
Make sure your outdoor faucets are covered to protect them from freezing.
Thanks for the reminders... A good point also about the gardening tools, once I took my lawn mower in to get it fixed in the middle of winter. The guy was so slow that not only did it take a very short time for the repair, but it was actually cheaper than usual.
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