December Garden Calendar | Midwest Living

December Garden Calendar

How to keep your plants happy over the winter!
  • Care for houseplants and bulbs

    -- Keep poinsettias well-watered. They dry out easily. Position them in a bright spot away from cold drafts and blasts of heat from a vent or fireplace.

    -- Don't fertilize houseplants this month. Let them have a little break, as they would in the outdoors.

    -- Check on forced bulbs you have in cold storage. Keep soil lightly moist. And once the bulbs have sent up shoots a half-inch to 1-inch high, take them out and put them in the sunniest, brightest spot possible.

  • Winter mulch and compost

    -- Mulch with snow. Perennials love snow. When shoveling, as long as the snow doesn't have salt in it and isn't slushy, don't worry about tossing it onto perennials and small shrubs. Fluffy snow is called white mulch and actually insulates against weather extremes.

    -- Collect ashes from your fireplace. Then put them onto your compost heap to increase the potassium content, which is valuable to plants when you reuse your compost in the garden.

    -- Recycle your live Christmas tree. Cut off the branches and lay them over plantings as a light winter mulch.

  • Deck the halls

    Cut evergreens from your yard and use them for indoor decorating. They make beautiful and aromatic holiday touches. Just remember that you are essentially pruning your evergreens when you take these clippings. So make clean cuts at the fork of a branch or a stem, and use your cuts to enhance the overall shape of the evergreen.

  • Landscape care

    -- Evaluate your landscape for winter interest. Note good places to plant native grasses, evergreens or shrubs with interesting bark. Then you'll be ready with a plan when you're itching to plant in the spring.

    -- Keep walks and plants safe. Instead of sodium chloride rock salt for your icy walks and drives, use calcium chloride, sand, or even kitty litter. It's less harmful to concrete and plants.

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