Gardener’s To Do List for December
Though the calendar says December, the weather in Northwest Florida fluctuates between winter and spring temperatures. The nice days are wonderful opportunities to accomplish many of those outside landscape chores in preparation for spring. But, it is also a good time to start planning for next month’s colder temperatures. Since we don’t experience frozen soil, winter is the best time to transplant hardy trees and shrubs. Deciduous trees establish root systems more quickly while dormant; versus installing them in the spring with all their tender new leaves. Here are a few suggestions for tasks that can be performed this month:
- Plant shade trees, fruit trees, and evergreen shrubs.
- Plant pre-chilled daffodil and narcissus bulbs (late December/early January).
- Do major re-shaping of shade trees, if needed, during the winter dormancy.
- Water live Christmas trees as needed and water holiday plants such as poinsettias as needed.
- Check houseplants for insect pests such as scale, mealy bugs, fungus gnats, whitefly and spider mites.
- Continue to mulch leaves from the lawn. Shred excess leaves and add to planting beds or compost pile.
- Replenish finished compost and mulch in planting beds, preferably before the first freeze.
- Switch sprinkler systems to ‘Manual’ mode for the balance of winter.
- Water thoroughly before a hard freeze to reduce plants’ chances of damage.
- Water lawn and all other plants once every three weeks or so, if supplemental rainfall is less than one inch in a three week period.
- Fertilize pansies and other winter annuals as needed.
- Protect tender plants from hard freezes.
- Be sure to clean, sharpen and repair all your garden and lawn tools. Now is also the best time to clean and have your power mower, edger and trimmer serviced.
- Be sure the mower blade is sharpened and balanced as well.
- Provide food and water to the area’s wintering birds.