Some who are new to the gardening game may believe that winter is the dead time for performing tasks. Actually, you should expect to be doing something for your garden or indoor plants throughout the calendar year. Winter is no exception.
First thing to consider is providing enough water for the garden. Sure it’s cold out once old man winter arrives, but you can’t neglect watering. Water, after all is the essence of life.
Watering should take place while the ground is not frozen. Keep in mind that it takes more time for the ground to cool off than the air. So, as long as the ground is not frozen and can accept water, then water. Expert gardeners advise that you at least water evergreens. Most of the other plants are dormant by the time the season turns from fall to winter. So they don’t need much water. However, evergreens keep their needles throughout the winter and can lose water through them. Provide water to the roots every week as long as possible into fall and winter. It helps to reduce stress.
Some regions of the country are already experiencing snow. It won’t be long before every region of the country where snow is common will begin to experience it.
You probably don’t need me to remind you that snow and ice can damage evergreens. So don’t allow the snow to build up on branches. Take some time to brush it off. Don’t shake branches because it may cause them to break. If the snow is frozen on branches and can’t be brushed off, then let it melt naturally.
If tree limbs break due to the weight of snow and ice, remove the broken limbs as soon as weather permits. The tree will heal better in the spring if the wound has a clean edge and not a ragged one.
Protect roses with rose cones. However, it is not uncommon for some regions of the country to experience a warm spell during winter. When this happens remember to ventilate the cones to prevent heat from building up inside. Remember to close the vents when the cold temperatures return.
Many of us dread the cold temperatures of winter. So do many bugs. Some including boxelder, house flies, squash bugs and multicolored Asian lady beetles hate the cold too and will seek shelter in your home. You can just vacuum them up as they start to appear. Keep in mind as you prepare to build warm fires in your fireplace that bugs hitch rides on the wood you may be bringing into the house. So it is best to store wood outside until you need it. Don’t treat firewood with insecticides to get rid of the little critters.
Other things to consider doing during the month of December include tidying up some of your plants. Leaves on iris, mombretia, peony and other similar type plants will no doubt turn brown this time of the year. That means they are ready to be removed. Cut the peony leaves, but pinch off the brown leaves from mombretia and iris. They should come off relatively easily once they have died. However, leaves on the Iris that are still green or yellow can be cut to about 5-inches or 6-inches.
Allow the leaves of bulb or tuber plants to feed from their leaves while they are still green. Leave grasses uncut because they offer places for insects to hibernate.
Gardening experts also advise that you continue to apply mulch, well-rotted manure or compost to flower beds. Surround the plants with the substance, but do not cover them.
If you have plants inside your home, reduce the amount of water you give them and place them on a sunny windowsill to take advantage of the shorter daylight hours.
Plants like Hyacinths and cyclamens are flowering in December and could prove to be ideal for adding color and scent indoors.
Prune acer plants before the middle of December and outdoor grapevines before Christmas. Cut about a quarter of the quince branches off when pruning them.