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Garden Checklist: Add years to lives of living Christmas trees

Living Christmas trees should be placed outside by now.
Living Christmas trees should be placed outside by now. Bigstock

Want your “living Christmas tree” to survive another holiday? Put it in the ground, or at least a large pot. After their stay indoors, plant these evergreens outside as soon as possible. If you’ve placed the tree outside before planting, avoid exposing the root ball to freezing temperatures; protect it on cold nights with frost cloths or a blanket. Better yet, get those roots in the ground or into a pot. Firs, pines and other evergreens can flourish in containers. And if planted in a pot, your living Christmas tree can come inside again next year for holiday celebrations.

Elsewhere in the garden:

▪  Divide and replant daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

▪  Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

▪ Clean up leaves and debris around fruit trees and rose bushes to prevent the spread of disease.

▪ Start pruning roses. They’ve been slow to go into dormancy this winter (many were blooming around Sacramento just before Christmas), but it’s time to get to work on this annual chore. Trim off remaining leaves from canes.

▪ Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees soon after a rain to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective. Don’t apply on foggy days.

▪  This also is the time to spray a copper-based oil on peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. This oil needs to be sprayed at least twice – now and shortly before bloom – to be most effective. To help combat this disease, pick up fallen leaves around the tree, too, and apply fresh mulch.

▪ In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

▪  Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

Debbie Arrington