• Plant berry-producing trees and shrubs to add winter color to your landscape. Choices include possumhaw and yaupon holly, Carolina buckthorn, rusty blackhaw viburnum and American beautyberry.
  • Plant pre-chilled tulip and hyacinth bulbs mid to late month. Plant bulbs in masses for best effect.
  • Daffodil bulbs may still be planted. Look for early and small-flowering varieties that tend to naturalize and return yearly.
  • Considering a living Christmas tree? Choose an adapted plant. Junipers, Arizona cypress and pyramidal hollies are good options. While indoors, place the tree in the brightest natural light and keep soil moist. Do not leave indoors for more than two weeks.


  • Apply a root stimulator such as liquid seaweed or a high-phosphorus fertilizer to newly planted trees and shrubs.
  • Do not top crape myrtles or remove the central leader of any shade tree. It destroys the crape myrtle’s natural shape, and delays blooming by five or six weeks. If your plant is too tall or too wide, remove or relocate it, and replace with something smaller that won’t require trimming.
  • Remove mistletoe from trees as soon as it becomes visible. Use a pole pruner to remove the entire twig from infected branches before the mistletoe produces berries. There are no effective consumer products to control this parasitic plant.


  • Protect tender vegetation from the cold with a lightweight frost cloth available at most nurseries and garden centers.
  • Continue to water lawns, newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials if rainfall is insufficient.
  • Prepare garden soil for spring planting by tilling in 6 inches of organic matter (compost) to a depth of 8 to 10 inches.
  • Take time during the holidays to check out the new seed and nursery catalogues. Order early to ensure availability.
  • Let’s not forget our feathered friends during the winter when their natural food supply is limited. Providing sunflower, safflower and thistle seed, suet and fruit will attract many species of birds to your backyard. And be sure to provide water.


Soil solarization is an environmentally friendly method of using the sun’s power to control pests such as bacteria, insects, and weeds in the soil. The process involves covering the ground with a clear polyethylene cover to trap solar energy. The sun heats the soil to temperatures that kill bacteria, fungi, insects, nematodes, mites, weeds and weed seeds.

Monty Grearner


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