Preparing your garden for Winter months

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December usually finds most gardeners rushing from store to store for last minute Christmas gift shopping for a garden journal for that special gardening friend or dashing around the house cleaning and getting ready for visitors, that special seasonal family dinner, and preparing the nativity scene so it can be displayed on the front lawn along with your holiday lighting display. Forget about gardening chores, especially winter gardening.
Fortunately for all of us, December gardening “to-do” lists are more of a “don’t do” list of winter gardening activities. 
A few things you do need to keep an eye on, and there are just a few discretionary activities you can choose to do in the garden. Your major concern for winter gardening will most likely be attention to your house plants.
Check Annuals, Perennials, and bulbs
If you potted up some bulbs, such as hyacinths, daffodils or tulips, last September for winter forcing, keep an eye on them. Make sure they remain moist, and in the dark until they have established their root systems. 
It is possible that they have already filled their containers with roots and that the new top growth has begun. If this is so, bring them into the house and set them in a cool room, in indirect light. 
After a week or so, move them into bright light, and watch them go to town!
Check on any corms and tubers which you dug up, and stored this fall. Remove and discard any which show signs of disease or rot.
Shrubs and Trees
Plants and shrubs developing underneath large evergreens or below the roof overhangs, could be completely dry by this month. Winter rains have a tendency to make you forget about watering your garden.
A lack of water during cold winter months can be a death knell to several of these plants. A fast check will determine if you need to do some winter watering. You want those trees, plants and shrubs around your nativity scene to look their best.
Should the temperature suddenly drop, provide extra protection for your more tender flowering plants like Rhododendrons, Camellias, Azaleas and Daphne. 
Give some temporary, emergency protection by pushing in three of four wire stakes around the plant perimeter, and then merely cover the plant with something like burlap, canvas, plastic tarp, or a sheet or an old blanket. 
Caution: Don't let this material directly contact the leaves of the plant, if it does it may freeze the greenery. Get rid of the cover completely, as soon as the weather tempers.
Put this note in your garden journal, “December is a good month to take cuttings of rhododendrons, azaleas, and other evergreen shrubs. The cutting should be taken from new tip growth, and kept in bright light, at about 70 degrees f. “
Prune those roses
Roses like hybrid teas varieties, grandifloras and floribundas are thankful for a firm pruning once each year. This a good time if you missed last month.
Lawn Care
Keep off frozen grass!!! Plan ahead and use stepping stones around your nativity scene to protect the grass.
House Plant Care
Glossy leaved house plants such as Philodendrons, Rubber plants, and Palms should be sponged off periodically, to allow them to breathe.
Plants which have fuzzy, textured, or other non-glossy type leaves should be set in the sink and sprayed gently with room temperature water, until the dust is cleaned away. Be sure that the foliage is allowed to dry completely.
Provide your house plants with extra humidity by grouping plants together, or by setting the pots on leak-proof trays filled with moistened pebbles.
If you successfully kept last years’ recorded plants alive, and have been keeping it in 14 hours of darkness since September, your Poinsettias and Christmas cactus should be ready bring back into the living room by December first.
With the proper care, these special plants will remain beautiful for many weeks.
They prefer to be kept on the cool side, 65-70 degrees during the day and 55-60 at night.
Keep them in bright, natural light whenever possible.
Keep them away from heat sources.
Keep them out of drafts.
Be sure to water them when they become dry.
Never allow them to stand in water for more than an hour.
This and that
Care for our feathered friends! Check your bird feeder and keep filled, particularly when snow covers the ground. And note in your garden journal the new feathered visitors you see this year.
Don't allow your hose to burst from that first freeze. Lay it out (preferably on an incline) with both ends open, to allow the water to drain completely. Then coil it up and store it until spring.
Make sure your outdoor faucets (hose bibs) are covered to protect them from freezing.
Be sure to research and learn the various plants on your property.  By better understanding your landscape, you can prepare your lawn and avoid the work and frustration of poor growth and dead plants can cause.  Remember, a little bit of extra work now can save you lots of time and money on expensive, time consuming treatments.
We invite you to contact us if you require help to better manage your yard and ultimately give it the cub appeal that you both desire and deserve.


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