Seasonal Calendar – December | Walter Reeves: The Georgia Gardener

FIRST WEEK: Continue to spot-spray or dig out chickweed, violets and wild onions you find in your lawn.

Rake the last of the fall leaves from your lawn. If you leave a pile of  wet, matted leaves now you’ll have big dead spots next spring.

When choosing a cut Christmas tree, gently pull a branch through your fingers. Few, if any, green needles should come off in your hand. see Selecting a Christmas Tree

Celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights, by giving a houseplant – the gift that keeps on giving!

Plan a fun family outing to cut your own Christmas tree! Tree farms supply saws, wagons and free wrapping for your soon-to-be-tinseled timber. For a list of farms, visit the Georgia Christmas Tree Growers Web site

Bermuda sod can be planted if it is  available but be sure to water it regularly for the rest of winter to  keep it from drying out.

Keep holiday plants in the coolest  indoor spot possible. Otherwise the flowers and leaves will drop  prematurely.

Sprinkle pine straw over bulb foliage that has  emerged too soon. The green leaves won’t be hurt by the cold but the  straw will help hide them.

Bring containers of liquid bug spray and weed killer indoors and store in a safe place. Freezing can cause chemicals to lose their potency.

SECOND WEEK: Prune your evergreen shrubbery and bring the cuttings indoors. Juniper,  holly and magnolia foliage is quite decorative. Use holly and nandina  berries for a red accent in table centerpieces.

Poinsettias do  not need fertilizing now but they do need watering. Check the dryness of  the soil daily to keep them looking their brilliant best.

Prune  short stubs and dead limbs from trees now that all the leaves are gone.

A good job for dreary winter days is to clean or propagate your houseplants. Both are easy to do.

Ficus plants that lose leaves are reacting to insufficient light or a  drafty site. Can you move yours to a better place in your house?

Poke holes in the foil wrapping on pots of holiday plants and set them  in individual saucers. Otherwise accumulated water will cause root rot.

THIRD WEEK: Bird feeders bring lots of colorful activity to a yard in cold weather.  Most bird experts recommend black oil sunflower seed for general  feeding. Thistle seed and suet cakes attract birds you might not have  seen before.

Rather than a bottle of wine, bring a houseplant as  a gift to holiday parties. Amaryllis, ornamental pepper, Christmas  cactus or kalanchoe will be appreciated for weeks to come.

Pull mulch at least six inches away from tree trunks. Many professional landscapers pile it high and don’t pull it back – setting a bad example for all of us.

Water trees  and shrubs you planted this fall. Evergreen plants in particular need  regular watering, even in cold weather. Apply 1 gallon per foot of  height.

Don’t leave your lawn mower out in the rain. Water can  get in the gas tank and prevent starting next spring. It is best to  drain the tank completely or run the mower until it is out of gas.

FOURTH WEEK: Purchase pots of paperwhite narcissus, African violet or gloxinia for  your office and home to bring color and a touch of perfume to the air.

Forget the powders and potions! What a Christmas tree needs to stay fresh is a constant supply of water around its base.

Plant  woody vines like Carolina jessamine, wisteria and cross vine now. Make  sure to place them next to a sturdy arbor and loosely tie the young vine  to it with twine.

Houseplants don’t need many nutrients in the  winter. Use houseplant fertilizer at half strength. Don’t water them  unless the soil feels dry one inch deep.

Remove  the faded blooms and bloom stalks from amaryllis but allow the leaves  to remain. Water only when the soil feels dry.

Fireplace ashes  can be scattered over your lawn. They will provide a bit of phosphorus  and potassium plus counteract soil acidity. Spread no more than ten lb. per  1000 square feet every six months.