December Lawn and Garden Tips

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House Plant Care – Most houseplants are tropical and the house environment can be stressful. The biggest problem is humidity. The humidity in the house is generally very low and can sometimes cause browning of leaves. In order to prevent this, one could place a humidifier in the room where the plants are or simply use a spray bottle to mist the plants once or twice a day. This will make the indoor environment much more conducive to growth. It is also important to make sure you water regularly but don’t flood your plants. House plants like moist
soil but not saturated. Lastly, watch out for insects such as aphids and whitefly. These insects can infest houseplants throughout the winter. If these are found, treat your plant with a soapy water solution.

Poinsettias & Holiday Plants – When selecting poinsettias, look for plants with yellow flowers (in the centers of the colored leaves (bracts)) that are not quite open. Tight flower buds are a good indication that the plant is fresh and healthy. Once you bring your poinsettia home keep it in an area that receives bright light and has a constant temperature of about 65-70°F. Keep poinsettias away from doorways or other areas that are drafty. Keep them well watered but not over watered.

Mistletoe should be kept away from children and pets in your home. The berries of mistletoe are toxic.

Winter Damage to Plants – Winter is a stressful time for plants. Take the time to mulch them well and protect those tender plants with row covers. Do not fertilize plants with a nitrogen fertilizer in the winter and hold off pruning damaged plants until the coldest part of winter is over. This will allow you more options when trying to recover a plant that has been severely cold or ice damaged.

Dwarf Yaupon hollies can take the cold weather but hate being covered in snow. If we have a snowfall that last more than 2 days, take the time to broom if off any dwarf yaupon holly plantings.

There is a temptation to prune your plants at this time but it is much better to wait until late February to do your major pruning.

Bird Feeders – Bird feeders should be cleaned monthly with hot sudsy water to prevent the spread of wild bird diseases.

Christmas Trees – Buy your Christmas tree early for best selection and care of tree. By following these suggestions, you can reduce the risk of a fire hazard in the home:

· Keep the tree in a bucket of water, in a shady location outdoors or in an unheated   room until you are ready to place it inside.

· Re-cut the butt of the tree making a new avenue for water entry immediately prior to placing in your tree stand and bringing it indoors

· While indoors, keep watered at all times.

· The tree needs only fresh water; additives are of little or no value.

If you have not planted those spring flowering bulbs, better get at it, and always plant quality bulbs. Larger bulbs produce larger flowers. Pansy plants set among bulbs will give the ground a great winter and spring cover and allow the bulbs to come right through in the spring.

Many people take a break in the winter but now is the time to be removing all the winter weeds such as chickweed and henbit. These will produce millions of seeds if not destroyed before they flower!

In the vegetable garden, harvest those last heads of cabbage and broccoli soon because they can be damaged by temperatures in the lower 20’s. Root crops can remain in the ground all winter if a good layer of mulch is applied. If you haven’t planted a cover crop by this time, you may have waited too late. It would be better now to simply cover your garden with leaves or straw in order to prevent erosion and add organic matter.