The busy holiday season often allows some vacation time and time for relaxation and gardening. Even after the tree is decorated, the gifts are bought and parties are over, there remain many timely gardening chores to accomplish. Should the gardener find some free time, consider the following:
1. Complete the planting of spring flowering bulbs. Tulips may be planted as late as early January and still do well if properly refrigerated and chilled 45 to 60 days before planting.
2. Select and plant needed woody landscape plants. Winter planting allows the new plantings to become well established before spring growth and summer heat. Delay planting plants such as azaleas, which may be damaged by severe cold.
3. Protect tender outdoor plants from the winter cold with 4-6 inches of mulch. Be certain that soils are moist prior to a hard freeze.
4. Shape hollies, and use the prunings for Christmas color. Remember, hollies produce berries on old or second-year growth. Avoid cutting back too much of the season’s growth as this is where next year’s berries will be formed.
5. Be sure to supply supplemental moisture for newly planted landscape materials during dry winter periods. Adequate soil moisture will help prevent freeze damage.
6. Composted fallen leaves make an excellent organic soil for spring and summer gardening. Don’t allow fallen leaves to collect on lawns to block off light and air.
7. Select and plant pansies now. They make excellent color in the bulb beds. Feed established pansy plantings. “Crystal Bowl,” “Imperial” and “Majestic” series or types of pansy hold well in late spring and early summer heat.
8. Transplant woody plants during the cold, dormant season. Prune one-third of top growth to compensate for root loss, Plant at the plant’s normal growing depth in well-prepared soil.
9. Make dormant oil spray to control scale. Follow instructions on label to avoid damage to plants. Scale insects may be found on fruit trees, camellia, gardenia, euonymus, etc.
10. Mistletoe will remain fresh and hold its decorative berries if the end of the stem is dipped in wax to seal off possible moisture loss. Mistletoe berries are poisonous.
11. Keep soil in potted poinsettias and other holiday plants moist, but never extremely wet or overly dry. Protect the plants from heat vents. All potted holiday plants need natural light and do best when not exposed to direct sun.
12. Consider using a living Christmas tree this year so it can be recycled to the landscape. Upright junipers, cherry laurel, Japanese black pine, deodora cedar, cleyera and Virginia pine are good choices.
13. Sow annual ryegrass to hold the soil in the new yard. Sow 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn area.
14. Clean vegetable gardens and annual beds of weeds and old plants to prevent a carry-over of insects, diseases and weed seed.
15. Last-minute shopping suggestions for that gardening friend include a new gardening book, a subscription to a Texas garden magazine, a plant, a nice container, good labor-saving tools, or even a promise of a rooted cutting from the plant in your yard.
16. Control camellia petal blight. Clear off old mulch and other debris under the plant. Spray ground beneath and around the plant with PCNB (Terraclor). Replace the old mulch with a clean new material. Pick all flowers as they fade or any that look diseased. Do not allow spent flowers to fall to the ground.
17. Order seeds now so you will be ready next month to start spring annuals and vegetables.
18. Begin to select fruit and nut plants for a winter planting. Choose only varieties adaptable to East Texas.
19. Prepare soils and beds for planting bare-rooted roses in January and February. Roses prefer a raised bed in well-prepared soils that contain generous amounts of organic materials. Locate the rose planting to receive at least a half-day’s sun and good air circulation.
20. Provide fresh water and feed for garden birds. Consider planting ornamental plants which attract birds.
21. Expect yellowing and leaf drop on tropical plants such as bougainvillea and Chinese hibiscus, etc. when over-wintering. Maintain healthy stems and roots. Plan to prune back when taken out-of-doors again in the spring to encourage new growth and blooms. Keep plants a little on the dry side and provide as much natural light as possible.
22. Hang the Christmas greens. Many landscape plants are available for Christmas delight. Consider the greens of holly, nandina, magnolia, cherry laurel, pine, Chinese photinia and others. For lasting arrangements, crush the stems of branches and allow them to soak overnight before displaying to assure lasting freshness and beauty.
Source: Tips For Winter Gardening