Gardening This Weekend: December 7, 2023
As promised, here’s your list of things to accomplish between now and early next week.
• Winter color from pansies, violas, pinks, snapdragons, and ornamental cabbage and kale. In South Texas, sweet alyssum, stocks, ornamental Swiss chard, and hardy cyclamen (require protection below 30F) 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.
• 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. Plant them close together for the best show. Daffodils and grape hyacinths should also be planted now. They do not require the pre-chilling.
• Erratic growth and damaged branches from shrubs and trees. Limbs that were frozen clear back in February 2021 are very brittle and are likely to break should ice or snow accumulate and weight them down.
• Old growth and dried stalks from perennials to tidy up gardens for winter. Spread shredded tree leaves, compost, or bark mulch over the clean beds to lessen growth of weeds.
• Mow lawn one final time to remove last of fallen leaves. Mowing will also eliminate many of the rank-growing 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 polyethylene plastic film.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Cover winter annuals and other tender vegetation with lightweight frost cloth from a local independent retail garden center when extreme cold is expected. Buy it ahead of need. Cut it, label it, and set it aside until conditions call for its use.
• Houseplants for signs of scale, mealy bugs, and white flies. These pests have no natural predators indoors.