Gardening This Weekend: December 14, 2017
Here are your mid-December gardening responsibilities. Scan through the list to see if any applies to your landscape or garden.
• Transplant trees and shrubs that need to be relocated now that they are completely dormant following last week’s hard freeze.
• All spring-flowering bulbs as soon as you can. Soils are cool enough now to plant tulips and Dutch hyacinths.
• Cold-hardy annuals. Pansies and pinks rate at the top, as do ornamental cabbage and kale. Snapdragons come next, then for the southern half of the state, stocks, cyclamen, wallflowers, sweet alyssum and Iceland poppies.
• Remove all frozen stems and foliage from perennials and annuals to tidy up garden beds for the winter.
• Shrubs to do light shaping. It’s still best to save major reshaping for another three or four weeks.
• Never top crape myrtles. I’ll explain why in a later issue, but I just wanted to get the warning out there in front of you.
• Mistletoe from tree branches as soon as you see it. Leaving it in place for more than one year will allow it to grow much larger very quickly.
• Mow lawn to remove fallen leaves and as needed to trim winter weeds and keep them in check.
• Houseplants once per month with diluted liquid plant food. You’re merely trying to sustain them, not to encourage vigorous new growth during the dark days of winter.
• Apply water-soluble, high-phosphate root-stimulator plant food to help newly transplanted trees and shrubs get established.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Houseplants for scale insects and mealy bugs. These are difficult to eliminate. It’s usually easiest to address them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Even then you’ll have to stay after them.
• If you applied frost cloth as protection from last week’s cold, you might consider just leaving it in place. If you used a true “frost cloth” manufactured for the purpose, it can remain over your plants for weeks without damage. I’ve left mine over tender plants for 8 or 10 weeks some years.