Watering your lawn and gardens. December is an especially critical time to check your plants for water. It is a colder time of year and we don’t think about our plants continuing to take up water. Just because a plant is dormant does not mean it is not continuing to grow. We just don’t think about it as much as we do in the heat of the year. Plants that are close to the house and are protected by the eves or are on your porch are probably very dry by now. If you live in an area that has received fall rains your plants in other areas of your yard should be in pretty good condition moisture wise.
Make sure you have adjusted your automatic sprinkler controller for the season. A good rule of thumb is to cut back to about 50% of your summer schedule. This is a general statement, you should take into consideration the conditions of the weather, soil, and plants in your yard.
Winter storms are setting in and as the weather turns cold early flowering or tender plants like azaleas, camellias, daphne, and rhododendrons need extra protection. You can drive four stakes around the plant and drape with burlap, tarp, or other cloth material. Remove the covering as soon as the weather warms up.
The geraniums you brought in this fall are probably getting leggy due to the lack of light from shorter days. Cut them back to one foot tall and don’t worry they will be fine. As the days grow longer in late winter they will resprout and grow bushier.
If in the past season there were no pest problems in your deciduous trees and shrubs you would have no reason to apply dormant spray. To control over-wintering insects and diseases you should schedule your three applications of dormant spraying for November, December, and January. Your dormant spray should be a combination of oil and liquid lime-sulfur.
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