December Tips and Tasks

Not sure what to get your garden lover this holiday season? The Master Gardener Handbook makes a nice gift. 

Master Gardener Handbook
  • Check to make sure the Christmas tree you purchase is fresh. Gently grasp a branch with your fingers and pull towards you. Very few needles should come off in your hand. The individual needles should be pliable when bent in half. Then raise the tree off the ground a few inches and hit the cut end of the trunk on the ground or pavement. If many needles shatter from the tree, it is a sign of dryness.
  • Keep the Christmas tree stand filled with water and check the level in the reservoir daily. There is no need to add preservatives to the water. 
  • To keep poinsettias healthy keep them away from dry, drafty locations. Do not place near heat vents, doorways or drafty windows. Remove the decorative pot cover or make holes in the bottom of it to make sure the water drains from the container when you water. 

December Tips and Tasks

Amaryillis
Amaryillis

  • An amaryllis is a popular holiday gift. With proper care, they can bloom again.
  • Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law prohibits anyone from using fertilizer products to melt ice and snow on steps, sidewalks or driveways.
  • Evergreens like hollies, boxwoods, and pines can be moderately pruned. The trimmings can be used for holiday decorating.
  • To keep poinsettias healthy keep them away from dry, drafty locations. Do not place near heat vents, doorways or drafty windows. Remove the decorative pot cover or make holes in the bottom of it to make sure the water drains from the container when you water.

 

 

Monthly Tips for December

Houseplants

poinsettias

  • To keep holiday plants looking good longer, keep them away from dry, drafty locations. Do not place near heat vents, doorways or drafty windows. Increase humidity around plants by placing them on a tray lined with pebbles, shallowly filled with water. Make sure the water does not enter the drainage holes. For information on caring for Poinsettias refer to (PDF) HG 30 Poinsettias.
  • Winter is a challenging time for most houseplants because of the lower natural light and susceptibility to being over watered.  Growing media should be allowed to dry out between watering.
  • Unless your indoor plants are growing under optimum, high light conditions, do not fertilize them during the winter months.

Insects

Mantid Egg Case
Mantid Egg Case

  • You may notice insects and spiders emerging from around your Christmas tree. They came in unnoticed on your tree. Simply escort them outside or vacuum them up.
  • The brown marmorated stink bug is settling down in nooks and crevices in houses and buildings for the winter. You may see several moving about in your home especially on warmer sunny winter days. Do not use insecticide sprays in your house to kill them. Capture and dispose of them using your shop vac. The stink bug is likely here to stay for a while, but like all insects may display fluctuating population cycles.
  • Miscellaneous beetles, like long-horned beetles and bark beetles may emerge from firewood stored inside the home. These are nuisance pests; they are not a threat to the wood in your home. You can also prevent pests from coming into the house by storing firewood outside the house.

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Lawn and Garden Tips and Tricks for December

Lawn

  • healthy soilGet a head start on spring lawn projects by submitting a soil test now. Keeping the soil pH in the 6.0 – 7.0 range is very important in maintaining healthy turf.
  • Hand-pull winter annual weeds now to keep them from going to seed this spring. Some common annual weeds include chickweed, henbit, hairy bittercress and dead nettle.
  • Try to avoid excessive walking on your grass when it is frozen this winter to avoid damaging the crowns of your grass plants.

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