Make the most of sunny December days when we have them. When the weather is nice, squeeze in some garden time to tidy up and renew vegetable and flower beds. There’s a lot to do, including:
▪ Cut chrysanthemums to 6 to 8 inches above ground after bloom.
▪ Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.
▪ Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while dormant. You can see the branches and overall structure better with no leaves.
▪ Plant bare-root cane berries such as raspberries or blackberries as well as kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.
▪ Plant bare-root perennials in the flower garden, including astilbe, peonies, cyclamen, bleeding heart, dianthus and daisies.
▪ Give a drink to plants that rain doesn’t reach, such as those under eaves or under evergreen trees. Well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty ones.
▪ Bring in branches of pyracantha, holly, toyon or other berry-bearing foliage to decorate your home. Also good are boughs of cedar, pine, redwood, fir, juniper, cypress or other evergreens. They smell great, too.
▪ Take advantage of end-of-year bulb sales. Plant spring bulbs such as daffodils, callas and Dutch iris. Get them in the ground or pots immediately.
▪ If chilly nights are forecast, remember to mulch, water and cover to protect tender plants from frost. Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Be sure to remove coverings during the day.
▪ After storms, empty standing water that may have collected in saucers under potted plants to avoid root rot.