10 Tips for the December Gardener

poinsettia - clemson
Photo: Clemson Extension

This morning’s winter weather reminds us to check in on our gardens and house plants as well. Here are some helpful tips for your winter gardening needs:

  1. Tap the evergreen branches gently to remove snow and prevent the branches from breaking.
  2. Check fruits, vegetables, corms and tubers that you have in storage. Sort out any that show signs of disease and dispose of them.
  3. Houseplants may need to be watered more often when the heating system is on.
  4. Amaryllis bulbs may be started now. If they are established bulbs in old pots, two inches of soil should 
be removed from the surface and replaced with a good, rich mixture.
  5. Deck the Beds – For those who have a real Christmas tree, recycle it after the holidays are through. Cut off branches and use them as insulation over perennials. In the spring, chip or shred the branches to create mulch or add to the compost pile.
  6. Although many see it as a safer alternative to salt, resist using fertilizer to melt ice. This creates nitrogen runoff issues that could damage local bodies of water. Try using calcium chloride, sand or kitty litter instead.
  7. Continue to harvest Brussels sprouts. They’ll typically keep even when buried in snow drifts.
  8. Display poinsettias away from heat sources and cold drafts. Keep soil consistently moist, but not soggy. Poinsettias that dry out droop dramatically and drop their flowers.
  9. Don’t walk on frozen grass, especially if there is no snow cover. Without the protection of snow, grass blades are easily broken causing die-back in your lawn.
  10. If you have friends or family that like to garden, think of gardening gifts for the holidays. Books, gloves, hand tools, weather instruments, and fancy pots are some fun ideas to consider!