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Garden Solutions - December 2010

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Local Blogs - Hillermann Nursery & Florist
Sunday, 05 December 2010
close up of red poinsettia blooms              "The month of December brings the holiday season and warm thoughts of family, friends and community. I would like to say "Thank You," and I wish you and yours a "Blessed Holiday Season" with all the best in the New Year!" Furthermore, fall will turn into winter this month. With the addition of fire pits in our outdoor living rooms, evenings outdoors can still be enjoyable sampling hot chocolate or cider with friends around the blaze of a comfortable warm fire. You can even gather the kids for the making of s'mores! Enjoy the crisp cool weather.

            Plants get "chapped lips" too! Cold, dry winter winds and bright winter sun make our skin chapped and unhealthy. Those winds have a devastatingly similar effect on your plants, which are out in the winds all winter. No wonder your evergreens don't look so great come spring. This drying effect is called desiccation and is often the most devastating aspect of winter damage on plants in our Midwest region. To fight desiccation, first choose the right plants for windy, dry areas. Especially try to avoid placing broadleaf evergreens, such as azaleas, in places shady in summer but sunny and windy in winter. Second, make sure to water your evergreens well through early December, before the ground freezes and plants can no longer "drink" from the soil. Third, mulch your plants for winter to retain soil moisture as well as soil temperature. Fourth, use an anti-desiccant. These products coat leaves and needles to slow down the loss of moisture. One of the best products to use is Wilt Stop by Bonide. This product is a natural polymer that covers plants with a FLEXIBLE coating to lock moisture in the plant tissue. The flexible coating is important to keep the coating on plants as they bend and sway in the wind. Wilt Stop lasts 45-60 days so apply the first treatment in early December and again in early February.

            Here are a few tips on winter houseplant care. When the heat goes on and the daylight becomes shorter, houseplants sometimes begin to yellow and drop their leaves. It may be necessary to move the plants to a different place in the home and give them different treatment from that given during the summer. Flowering plants need at least half a day of direct sunlight to develop flower buds. Cacti and many succulents require a sunny location, and coleus and crotons need direct sun to maintain the decorative color. Foliage plants, such as ivy, philodendron, and dieffenbachia plants, do well in indirect light rather than direct sunlight. The ideal temperatures for foliage plants are 68-70 degrees during the day and slightly lower at night. Flowering plants retain blossoms longer at lower temperatures. Remember, windowsill locations are much colder during the winter and plants that did well there in summer and fall may need to be moved to prevent them from getting chilled. The amount of water the houseplants need declines during winter, so increase the amount of time between watering. Reduce fertilizing as well; flowering plants should be fertilized half as often and foliage plants should only be fertilized if needed.

            December also brings the preparation time for the Holidays. Poinsettias are an all time favorite to add a festive look to any décor. Follow these simple poinsettia basics for success. They should have sun for at least ½ the day and keep them away from drafts, registers and radiators. The soil should dry only slightly between thorough watering. Be sure to punch holes in decorative foil wraps to prevent soggy soil conditions. Are you looking for that unusual color?  Poinsettias can be painted to match any décor you desire. Here is another idea, try one painted to match colors for your sports team of choice. The possibilities are endless. In addition, you need not worry about the myth of poinsettias being poisonous; there is extensive scientific research that gives the poinsettia a clean bill of health. Enjoy one this year yourself.

Along with these Holiday tips, here are a few other ideas for the month:

  • Hollies may be trimmed now and the trimmings can be used in holiday decorations.
  • Use caution when spreading salt or calcium on ice or snow packed walks and driveways.  Salt can damage lawns and plantings, calcium is much safer to use. Be sure to designate areas to for piling snow from plowing in advance to prevent damage to trees, shrubs and lawns.
  • Clean and oil all garden hand tools before storing for the winter.
  • Winterize all power equipment before storage. Change the oil and lubricate moving parts.  Either drain fuel systems or mix gas-stabilizing additive into the tank.
  • You can continue planting bulbs until frost in the ground prevents you from digging.
  • Perennial beds and roses should have been put to rest for winter by now. If not, cut back, clean up and mulch.  Roses should be mulched 10-12" deep.
  • Continue to feed our fine feathered friends and place heated birdbaths with fresh water out for them.

Again, I wish you and your family a very Blessed Christmas season. Let's get to work on planning those beautiful garden scenes for next year!!!

See you in the Garden...

Sandi Hillermann McDonald

Hillermann Nursery & Florist,


Articles posted to the Local Blogs section are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily that of or WASHMO Media, LLC.

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