Gardening This Weekend: December 21, 2023

Here’s your list of the top jobs for late December. I’ve pared it down to those that really need your attention now.

Cold-hardy annuals such as pansies, violas, pinks and others either into the ground or into patio pots so you can move them into protection during unusually cold weather.
Living Christmas trees as soon as possible after Christmas. The longer they’re indoors the less likely they are to establish and grow well outside. At least get it out onto the patio and water it deeply. But don’t leave it sitting out there more than a couple of days before you plant it. I’ve always contended that nothing good happens while we leave container plants sitting on the driveway waiting to be planted.
Tulips and Dutch hyacinths as soon as possible. Wait even another week or two and they may not bloom at their normal time in spring.

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Branches that were weakened or killed by the cold of February 2021. The weight of that dead wood, with ice or snow added to it, can cause it to crack and break suddenly.
Mistletoe out of trees for use in last-minute decorating. The sticky berries don’t hold on the twigs very long, plus they’re a bit toxic, so be careful where you us them to decorate.

Feed pansies and other winter annuals with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food every couple of weeks to keep them growing.
Apply high-phosphate, liquid root-stimulator food to newly transplanted trees and shrubs monthly for first year. (That’s referring to plants that were dug with loss of roots in the process, as opposed to plants set out of containers.)
No need to feed poinsettias or any other holiday flowers. The fertilizers growers used will sustain them through the next several weeks.

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Houseplants for rapid accumulations of insect pests now that the plants are indoors away from natural predators that might keep them under control outdoors.
Have frost cloth pre-cut and ready to put in place over tender plants if cold blows in.
Check automatic sprinkler system to be sure the freeze sensor is functioning, also that all heads are aligned away from walks, steps, and drives. Adjust controllers to run during the morning during winter since evaporation is not a concern like it is in warm months.
Don’t let poinsettia, azaleas and other holiday flowers dry to the point of wilting. That greatly shortens bloom life and results in severe leaf drop.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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