Gardening This Weekend: December 12, 2019
Here are your mid-December gardening responsibilities. Scan through the list to see if any applies to your landscape or garden.
• 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.
• Blow the whistle! It’s finally time! All spring-flowering bulbs as soon as you can. Soils are cool enough now to plant tulips and Dutch hyacinths.
• Transplant trees and shrubs that need to be relocated now that they are completely dormant following last month’s hard freezes.
• 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. I’ve already seen people who have started this barbaric whacking.
• Shrubs to do light shaping. It’s still best to save major reshaping for another three or four weeks.
• 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.
• Ryegrass and fescue turf with all-nitrogen, slow-release food sometime in next week or so (preferably during a warm spell). Water immediately after application. These grasses grow in cooler weather. Next feeding will come in late February.
• 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
• Turn compost monthly to keep microbes working actively. Cover it with black plastic to soak up the sun’s warmth, again to speed up the decay.
• 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.
• Buy frost cloth, measure and pre-cut it and keep it handy in case of extreme cold. You can actually leave tender plants covered for several weeks without fear of harm to them in the process. Air, water and even sunlight can penetrate the lightweight material.