December to-do list: What to plant, fertilize, prune and more – The Dallas Morning News

december-to-do-list:-what-to-plant,-fertilize,-prune-and-more-–-the-dallas-morning-news

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With December upon us and colder weather on the way, here’s your gardening to-do list.PlantCool-season annuals and hardy perennials — use seed or transplants for delphiniums, larkspur, poppies, arugula, cabbage, kale, Swiss chard, greens, spinach, lettuce, carrots and garlic (bulbs, corms or rounds). Trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers and permanent crops. Herb transplants including lavender, oregano, rosemary, rue, sage, parsley, coriander, dill and fennel. Living Christmas trees that are adapted to the area. Spring bulbs, including tulips and hyacinths. New plants may need some freeze protection with floating row cover.FertilizeCool-season annuals in beds and pots with organic fertilizer and Garrett Juice. Greenhouse plants with organic fertilizers, earthworm castings and lava sand. Houseplants with earthworm castings, lava sand and other odorless organic fertilizers. Add apple cider vinegar at one ounce per gallon at each watering. Winter grasses with mild organic fertilizer at one-half the usual rate.PruneEvergreens to adjust appearance. Shade trees to remove dead, damaged and out-of-place limbs. Tops off spent perennials, if not already done. Do not prune just to “thin out” trees, just to avoid crowding, to allow more light to understory plants or to eliminate co-dominate vertical growth. Wait till the end of winter to prune fruit trees and grapes to prevent premature flowering and frost damage. Remove ground covers and vines from the bases of plants, especially from all trees. Do not make flush cuts and do not apply pruning paint at this time to any plants. Do not prune the tops of crape myrtles. The seedpods are decorative, and some small birds like the seed.WaterAny dry areas to help protect against desiccation and winter cold injury. Potted plants as needed. Add apple cider vinegar or Garrett Juice at one tablespoon to one ounce per gallon, time permitting.Prune fruit trees as late in the winter as possible to prevent early flowering.(Howard Garrett / Special Contributor)PestsSpray houseplants with mild soap or essential oil products if needed to control scale, mealy bugs, spider mites and other insects. Orange oil-based mound drench solutions can also be used for fire ants.Horticultural oil can be used for heavy insect infestations, but only in extreme cases to avoid killing beneficial insects and microbes. Spray garlic tea or hydrogen peroxide products on plants with fungal diseases. Apply dry granulated garlic to the soil for additional control. Henbit, clover and other wildflowers are beautiful, so don’t worry about spraying them in most cases. If you must, use vinegar products between Christmas and New Year’s Day. To control mistletoe or heavy infestations of galls, apply dry molasses or the entire Sick Tree Treatment.Odd jobsContinue to mulch leaves into the turf. Cover tender plants before freezes with floating row cover. Potted plants can be covered with large plastic trash cans. Pick tomatoes the night before the first freeze. Mulch all bare soil with partially completed compost or shredded native tree trimmings. Turn compost piles as time allows. Add molasses to speed up breakdown. Apply lava sand or decomposed granite on icy paving. Do not use chemical deicers, salt or synthetic fertilizers.
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