Magazine article Sunset

What to Do in Your Garden in December

Magazine article Sunset

What to Do in Your Garden in December

Article excerpt

SHOPPING

* Gift plants in pots. Bypass crowded malls and head to nurseries this month for plants that the gardeners on your list can enjoy long after the holidays. For an edible treat, tie a bow around a dwarf citrus tree or a cluster of strawberry plants. For something in bloom, choose a camellia, Christmas cactus, cymbidium, kalanchoe, or moth orchid.

PLANTING

* Bare-root roses. Sunset climate zones 7-9, 14-17: For best selection, shop for bare-root roses this month. If you want roses for cutting, try floribundas or hybrid teas. For small spaces or containers, choose varieties that stay compact, such as 'Sunsprite' or 'China Doll'. If you can't find what you're looking for at local nurseries, try a mail-order source such as Arena Roses (www.arenaroses.com or 888/466-7434), Petaluma Rose Company (www.petrose.com or 877/738-2586), or Regan Nursery (www.regannursery.com or 510/797-3222).

* Living Christmas trees. In December, most nurseries sell a wider than usual range of conifers suitable for growing in containers as living Christmas trees. Choices include Colorado blue spruce, deodar cedar, Douglas fir, pines, and redwood. Before bringing a potted tree indoors, water it thoroughly and hose off the foliage. Once indoors, set the pot on a waterproof saucer in a cool, bright location away from heat sources. Check soil moisture daily and water as needed; keep the tree indoors no longer than 10 days. Then plant outdoors or transplant into a larger container.

MAINTENANCE

* Keep cut Christmas trees fresh. For the freshest tree, look for one that is stored in water at the Christmas tree lot. After you get it home, remove an inch off the bottom of the trunk with a saw, place the trunk in a bucket of water, and store the tree outdoors in a shady area overnight. Before setting the tree in a stand, saw another inch off the bottom (you may need to remove some branches, if they start low on the trunk). …

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