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Things To Do For December:
  • Finish removing leaves from lawn areas.If possible, shred the leaves with the lawn mower and add to perennial or annual beds as mulch.
  • Decorate those containers remaining outdoors for the winter. Evergreen boughs such as Yew, Pine, Hemlock, fruited Holly or Cherry Laurel branches can be pruned from the garden. Add some white painted birch stems, which many Garden Centers carry, and an attractive and long lasting winter container can be created for patios, entrance walks and front door stoops.
  • If you have recently planted an evergreen, make certain that the soil remains moist.A 3-4” layer of mulch over the roots certainly helps to retain the moisture.A thicker layer of mulch is actually detrimental to the plant.
  • Rhododendrons, Holly or other evergreen shrubs that have been recently planted will benefit from an application of an anti-desiccant spray.Apply during periods when the temperatures are above freezing for several hours.
  • Finish cutting back those perennials which have little winter interest, or that can potentially spread seed throughout the garden and become a weed nuisance during next summer.
  • Pot-up daffodils, tulips or minor bulbs in shallow pots and when evening temperatures consistently are in the teens, place them in the back of an unheated garage for the winter.Water when the soil appears dry.As the shoots begin to appear in February, place them in a sunny but cool window (hopefully in the garage).They will provide nice early color to the kitchen table in March or for outdoor containers in March and April.
  • For Tea Roses, mulch the graft union with soil, leaves or mulch after the soil has started to freeze. This will ensure that the desired and budded named selection plant will not perish during the winter.
  • Winterize lawn mowers and other gas-powered equipment.This entails cleaning or replacing of filters and amending the fuel with an additive that will prevent it from becoming more viscous and potentially blocking fuel lines come spring.
  • Seed vegetable gardens with winter rye as a green manure.If there is access to composted or even fresh horse or cow manure, it too can be spread now in the annual beds (not vegetable)..

We are always happy to answer any of your gardening questions. Please submit them to rugardens@aesop.rutgers.edu or for additional plant information visit the Rutgers Gardens web site at www.rutgersgardens.rutgers.edu.