Timely Tips — December 2013

clock_LGPlant: Spring annual color from 4-inch and larger pots soon to let plants get established before it gets any colder. Finish planting daffodils and other spring bulbs. Plant tulips and hyacinths when soil temperatures are in the low 50s for several consecutive days. Otherwise, leave them in 45-degree refrigeration until late in the month. Begin fruit and pecan plantings as stock begins to arrive in nurseries late in December. Transplant established trees, shrubs within landscape, also native plants into your landscape once they have been exposed to at least one hard freeze.

Prune: Trees, shrubs to tidy their growth, also to remove damaged or errant branches. Do not “top” crape myrtles or other shade trees for any reason. It serves absolutely no good function. Fruit trees this winter to establish the “scaffold” branching structure with peaches, plums. Apples will require only the removal of vertical shoots, and pears and pecans will require little regular pruning. Prune grapes back by 80 to 85 percent. Remove mistletoe before it gains a stronghold on cedar elms, hackberries and other shade trees. There is no chemical spray to control it.

Fertilize: Greenhouse and house plants that you’re over-wintering indoors, lightly. Use a diluted, complete-and-balanced, water-soluble plant food every four to six times that you water. Use the same complete-and-balanced fertilizer for cool-season color plants early in month, while they’re still growing actively. Apply liquid, high-phosphate root-stimulator fertilizer to all newly transplanted trees, shrubs.

On The Lookout: Free of natural predators, insect populations can build on plants indoors. Watch houseplants and greenhouse plants for signs of scale, mealy bugs, whiteflies and mites. Use appropriate control measures. Prepare to cover pansies, tender shrubs and other plants that could be killed by winter cold spells. Lightweight frost cloth can actually offer many degrees’ protection.

Odd Jobs: Protect your investments: clean and repair equipment and tools. Oil all cutting surfaces to prevent rust over the winter. Drain power equipment gasoline tanks or run engines until they’re dry. Have soil tested so you’ll be ready for your first vegetable plantings in less than eight weeks.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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