Gardening This Weekend: December 7, 2017

Mid-December brings its own unique gardening tasks. Here are the most critical. I’ll list them in short form so you can get right onto them.


Tulips and Dutch hyacinths that have had their 45 days of “pre-chilling” in the refrigerator at 45 degrees. Soils have cooled sufficiently. Plant the bulbs 2-3 times as deep as they are tall and fairly close together for best show. Daffodils and grape hyacinths should also be planted soon. They do not require the pre-chilling.
Winter color from pansies, violas, pinks, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and kale, sweet alyssum, stocks, ornamental Swiss chard, cyclamen (require protection below 28 F) and other cool-season bloomers. Plant tender types in pots so you can move them into protection if you’re in a colder area. Let your certified nursery professional guide you.


Erratic growth and damaged branches from shrubs and trees.
Old growth and dried stalks from perennials to tidy up for winter.
Mow lawn one final time to remove last of fallen leaves. Mowing will also eliminate many of the rank broadleafed winter weeds.


Pansies and other winter annuals with water-soluble, high-nitrogen plant food to promote vigorous growth during winter warm spells.
Compost with ammonium sulfate granules, one cup per cubic yard of compost every 4 to 8 weeks. Turn and mix pile as you include the fertilizer. Keep pile warm and moist by covering with black polyethylene plastic film.

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Cover winter annuals and other tender vegetation with lightweight frost cloth from a local independent retail garden center when extreme cold is expected. Do not use plastic film. It heats up too quickly in morning sun.
Houseplants for signs of population explosions of scale, mealy bugs and white flies. These pests have no natural predators when we move plants indoors.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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