Try forcing bulbs such as amaryllis, paper whites or tulips as a way to enjoy gardening during the winter. December is a great month for armchair gardening. You can enjoy the seed and perennial catalogs and start planning your spring garden.
Fruits and Nuts–Plant young pecan and other deciduous fruit trees and grapes. Select budwood. Start dormant pruning of established fruits. Protect all young trees from rabbit damage by placing wire around the base of the tree. Put on dormant oil sprays for scale.
Shrubs–Planting is still the main activity but delay in case of freezing weather.
Lawns–Control wild garlic, chickweed, poa annua, dandelion, and other weeds. Read label on each can of weed killer used. Roses–add plants to rose garden. Mulch all plantings.
Annuals and Perennials–Plant hardy annual seed without delay. Have you tried violas?
Bulbs–continue spring bulb planting.
Miscellaneous–Shrubs, trees and indoor plants make excellent gifts.
Decorating with fresh greenery from your landscape is easy and a great way to bring the outside in. AND, oh yes, it is basically free! Many evergreens hold up well for a week to 10 days inside your home. If you place the stems in water and place them outside on your porch they will often last weeks during the cool days of our fall and winter.
There are many landscape and forest plants that perform well including pine, cedar, magnolia, juniper, wax myrtle, pittosporum, nandina, Leyland cypress, arborvitae, ivy and holly of all types. If you don’t know which plants perform well and which don’t, experiment with them ahead of your event.
You will need clippers to cut the greenery and a bucket of water to place them in as you cut. You may need to split the hard stems or bash with a hammer to open up the stems so they will absorb more water. You may want to rinse the greenery before letting it sit overnight in a cool place to absorb water.
Many evergreens like pine, cedar and magnolia leaves will hold up for several days without water but putting them in a container with water will prolong their life.
Adding springs of fresh greenery to florist flowers is inexpensive and will transform simple cut flowers into holiday decorations. You may add greenery along your mantle or banister, in the branches of your chandelier, around a holiday decoration and many other places in your home.
Caution: some plants and berries may be toxic to people and pets.
For more information on using fresh greenery check out Holiday Decorating with Fresh Greenery from Clemson Cooperative Extension. This publication has great pictures, more detailed information and even directions to make your own kissing ball.
Even with the cold temperatures in late winter is your garden showing signs of the coming spring? Have your crocuses and daffodils announced themselves yet? Do you have lenten rose blooming and buds on your old garden quince? If not, you should consider planting these and you will be excited when they show up and tell you that Spring really is on the way!
A simple cold frame as pictured here is used asa miniature greenhouse to protect tender plants from cold, grow plants such as lettuce, spinach, and radishes through the winter and to start transplants for spring gardens. The cold frame pictured was built by a Master Gardener from lumber and has a recycled glass storm door for the cover. Some are built from concrete blocks. In very cold weather an old quilt, blanket or straw can be used to cover it and help hold the heat. Some gardeners use a remote thermometer to check the temperature. When we have warm days the top will need to be propped open to regulate the temperature.