Gardening This Weekend: December 1, 2016

As we send this out, forecasts are calling for cold, wet and windy weather several of the next few days. Our list of gardening responsibilities is a sound one, even if you’re not able to put it to use right away. Like housecleaning, these “opportunities” will be waiting for you.


• Living Christmas tree, but read story in this issue before you do.
• Pansies, pinks, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and kale and other cool-season annual plants. Redo soil from summer plantings before you set new transplants out– add 2 or 3 inches of organic matter and rototill to 8 to 10 inches.
• Daffodils and grape hyacinths right away. Wait another couple of weeks to plant tulips and Dutch hyacinths you’ve been chilling in the refrigerator.


• Holiday greenery from evergreens, hollies, etc. It won’t last more than a week or so indoors, so wait as long as you can to harvest it. Putting the cut ends into vases of water will prolong their lives by a week or two.
• If you can now see tree branches that have sustained damage over the summer, have a certified arborist assess the damage and take any necessary corrective action.
• Trim chrysanthemum, Mexican bush salvia and fall aster plants back to within 2 to 3 inches of the soil line now that they have all finished blooming.


• Winter annuals with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food each time that you water them.
• No need to fertilize potted poinsettias, cyclamen and other winter-flowering potted plants. They have been given a slow-release plant food by the grower. Similarly, adding any kind of sugar, bleach or nutrients to a Christmas tree stand is wasted effort, and it risks doing damage to the floor should it all spill.


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• Houseplants for scale insects, mealybugs, whiteflies and fungal gnats. Talk to your independent retail garden center for advice on the best controls.
• Protect peach and plum trees from leaf curl (peaches) and bacterial stem canker (plums). Apply a copper-based fungicide now. There is no treatment that will help in the spring.
• Clover, dandelions, henbit, chickweed and other non-grassy weeds can be controlled by a spray of a broadleafed weedkiller (containing 2,4-D). Time to apply is quickly disappearing. You need temperatures in the 60s or 70s for 48 hours without rain.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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