Gardening This Weekend: December 8, 2022
Trying to stay ahead of the game? Here are some of our prime goals as we look into December.
• Tulips and Dutch hyacinths that have been “pre-chilling” in the refrigerator at 45 degrees for the past 6-8 weeks can soon be planted. It’s been warm across Texas this week, but soils will have cooled sufficiently by a week or two from now. Plant the bulbs 2-3 times as deep as they are tall and fairly close together for best show. Daffodils and grape hyacinths can be planted now. 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. This is a good time to contact a certified arborist to reshape your trees and remove any damaged or conflicted branches. The pros can easily see through the trees’ canopies to see what needs to be pruned.
• Mow lawn one final time to remove last of fallen leaves. As always, use the shredded leaves in your compost. Don’t send them to the landfill. Mowing will also eliminate many of the rank-growing broadleafed winter weeds.
• Old growth and dried stalks from perennials to tidy up for winter. Pile shredded tree leaves over them to lessen crops of winter weeds, also to moderate rates of freezing and thawing.
• Pansies and other winter annuals with water-soluble, high-nitrogen plant food to promote vigorous growth during winter warm spells.
• Cut back on fertilizer you give to houseplants during dark days of winter. They may only need monthly feedings, perhaps not even that. Your poinsettia and other Christmas flowers will be fine until they finish blooming.
• 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 polyethylene plastic film.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Stock up on frost cloth in sufficient widths to cover your vulnerable annual flowers and shrub beds. It’s great to pre-measure and cut it so you can quickly pull it in place clear to the ground on all sides when the need arises. The lightweight white cloth works best at admitting light and water while holding in warmth.
• Houseplants for signs of population explosions of scale, mealy bugs and white flies. These pests have no natural predators when we move plants indoors.