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Master Gardener Column: What to do in December

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Gail Haynes
Master Gardener

Continue to set out cool-season bedding plants, such as pansies, violas, stock, snapdragons and dianthus.

Don’t get in a hurry to prune woody plants. Late December through February is usually the best time to prune them. 

Don’t spare the pruning shears when transplanting bare-rooted woody plants. Cut the tops back at least one-third to one-half, to compensate for the roots lost when digging the plant.

Drain gasoline from power tools and run the engine until fuel in the carburetor is used up. Drain and store garden hoses and watering equipment in a readily accessible location. The lawn and plants may need water during a prolonged dry spell.

Berrying plants, such as holly and yaupon, may be pruned now while they can be enjoyed as cut material inside the house. Use good pruning practices when selecting Christmas greenery from landscape plants. Don’t destroy the natural form and beauty of the plant.

Prolong the life of holiday-season gift plants by providing proper care. Check to see if the pot wrap has plugged up the bottom drainage. Don’t overwater. Keep out of drafts from heating vents and opening doorways. Fertilizer is seldom needed the first few months.

Want to start cuttings of your favorite Christmas cactus? As soon as it has finished blooming, select a cutting with four or five joints, break or cut it off, and insert the basal end into a pot of moderately moist soil. Place it on a windowsill or other brightly lit area. The cuttings should be rooted within three to four weeks.

Plant spring-flowering bulbs if you haven’t already done so. Be sure to refrigerate tulips and hyacinths for 6-8 weeks prior to planting. 

Take advantage of bad weather and holiday time to study seed and nursery catalogues as well as good gardening books. 


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