December in the Garden – Orlando Sentinel

december-in-the-garden-–-orlando-sentinel

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Average temperatures: High 73; low 53 Average Central Florida date of first frost: Dec. 18 1. Moon phases for December New moon: Dec. 4 First quarter: Dec. 11 Full moon: Dec. 19 Last quarter: Dec. 27 2. Moon-sign planting dates Above-ground crops: 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16 Below-ground crops: 1, 2, 19, 20, 21,24, 25, 29, 30 Control weeds: 7, 8, 17, 18 Prune trees and shrubs: 3, 4, 12, 13, 22, 23, 31 3. Flowers: Alyssum, baby’s breath, bacopa, begonia, bush daisy, calendula, California poppy, candytuft, carnation, chrysanthemums, delphinium, dianthus, dusty miller, foxglove, geranium, godetia, hollyhock, Iceland poppy, licorice plant, lobelia, million bells, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansy, petunia, salvia, Shasta daisy, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, verbena and viola. 4. Vegetables: Beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, horseradish, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, radicchio, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips. 5. Herbs: Anise, arugula, basil, bay, chives, cilantro, coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, thyme and watercress. 6. Bulbs: African iris, amaryllis, anemones, bulbine, crinum, daylily, paperwhite narcissus, ranunculus, society garlic, spider lilies, rain lilies; refrigerate for future planting — Dutch iris, tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Dusty miller can be planted during December. (Joani MacCubbin) 7. Good watering and occasional rains have helped keep lawns green; continue normal care. 8. Irrigation no more than once a week is the rule in most areas. 9. Dry spots normally can be watered with a hand-held hose with an automatic shut-off. 10. Major feeding time is over for lawns; next fertilizer application is in March. 11. Yellowing turf can often be regreened with iron or a minor nutrient spray. 12. Many lawns have major weedy areas; remove and add new sod or plugs. 13. Use spot weed-control techniques for small patches of weeds also making good growth. 14. Most lawn insects are inactive at this time. Large patch, a disease, can be a major problem. 15. Make sure your watering system is applying the proper amount to wet the soil. 16. Adjust sprinklers to avoid sidewalks, driveways and streets. 17. Mow to maintain proper turf height and control weeds. 18. Replant hard-to-mow and shady areas with ground covers. 19. Overseeding lawns is seldom needed, but ryegrass can be sown to temporarily fill bare spots. 20. Remove fallen leaves from lawns and add them to the compost pile. Fruit, vegetable gardening 21. Start seeds of the cool-season crops for transplants. 22. Most warm-season vegetables have declined; replant with cool-season selections. 23. Observe water rules; micro-sprinklers can often be used as needed. 24. Plantings need less water during the cool weather. Water when the surface soil begins to dry. 25. Renew mulches to conserve water and control weeds. 26. Use the cooler weather to restart in-ground or container-grown herb plantings. 27. Feed herbs in containers every other week and in ground monthly when growth is needed. 28. Harvest herbs frequently to keep new growth coming. 29. Many citrus fruits are ripening. Use a taste test to determine when they are ready to eat. 30. Add new cold-tolerant fruits to the landscape; delay tropical fruit plantings until spring. 31. Prepare sandy garden sites with organic matter additions. 32. Delay deciduous fruit-tree pruning until next month and citrus pruning until mid-February. 33. Control caterpillars, a common cool-season pest, as needed. 34. Feed the vegetable garden every 3 to 4 weeks with composted manures or a general fertilizer. 35. Feeding time is over for all fruiting trees, shrubs and vines. Feed again in March. 36. Peach trees may start flowering, but don’t worry. There are plenty of buds for normal fruit set. 37. Prepare shelters for cold-sensitive tropical fruits. 38. Remove banana plants that have fruited to make room for new sprouts. 39. Protect pineapples from freezing temperatures. 40. Build compost piles from fallen leaves, yard debris and kitchen scraps. 41. Add holiday poinsettias to the landscape in their pots to easily remove during extreme cold. 42. Fill declining flower beds with cool-season color; it is finally pansy time. 43. Keep poinsettias and Christmas cactus out of the nighttime light until they show color. 44. Pruning time is over for most plants. Out-of-bounds shoots can be removed as needed. 45. Cool weather may cause cold-sensitive foliage plants to yellow. Move them indoors. 46. Trees and shrubs can often go several weeks without irrigation. Water as needed. 47. Add a rain gauge to the landscape and keep track of rainfall. 48. Establish watering zones to only moisten the ornamental plantings. 49. Feeding time is over for all trees, shrubs and vines. 50. Fertilize annual flowers monthly or use a slow-release fertilizer as labeled. 51. Hibiscus midges have been causing bud drop on hibiscus; control with a systemic insecticide. 52. Hurry to plant wildflower gardens to have blooms for spring. 53. Eliminate invading vines covering trees and shrubs. 54. Use the cooler weather to transplant trees and shrubs. Delay transplanting palms until spring. 55. Add new trees, shrubs and ground covers to the landscape. 56. Select trees and shrubs for their drought tolerance and pest resistance. 57. Water new plantings daily for 2 weeks; thereafter every 2 or 3 days until established. 58. Check and adjust supports holding trees and palms in an upright position as needed. 59. Maintain mulches at 2 to 3 inches over the root systems of trees and shrubs. 60. Replace declining plants with cold-hardy and low-maintenance selections. 61. Select and plant new camellias while in bloom to obtain the desired colors. 62. Work liberal amounts of organic matter into sandy or problem flower beds. 63. Remove old soil from container gardens to give new plantings a fresh start. 64. Turn compost piles at least monthly to speed the process. 65. Divide and replant perennials. 66. Bring orchids indoors when temperatures dip below 45 degrees. 67. Develop a cold-protection strategy for sensitive plants. Keep covers handy. 68. Add a bird feeder and bird bath to the landscape. 69. Groom water gardens, removing declining leaves and stems. 70. Repair and repaint bird houses, landscape furniture and fences. 71. Start paperwhite narcissus and amaryllis bulbs for holiday gifts and winter blooms. 72. Select holiday plants early for displays to obtain maximum enjoyment. 73. Give holiday plants a cool, bright location. 74. Christmas cactus often drop buds when brought indoors. Try to duplicate outdoor conditions. 75. Move cold-sensitive plants to a warm location. 76. Submerge root balls in water 5 minutes to chase out pests before bringing plants indoors. 77. Replace declining plants with new greenery. 78. Remove yellow leaves from plants affected by cold and give a warm location. 79. Water when the surface soil begins to dry. 80. Check monthly for mites, mealy bugs and other pests; control with a soapy water wash. Tom MacCubbin is an urban horticulturist emeritus with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. Write him: Orlando Sentinel, P.O. Box 2833, Orlando FL 32802. Email: [email protected] Blog with Tom at OrlandoSentinel.com/tomdigs.
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