By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider
December gardening. It’s nice to have a shorter to-do list and a chance to plan for your 2022 garden and yard. January or early February will be the time to cut back your plants.
Right now, you can use cuttings from your yard for holiday decorations and gifts. Use good pruning practices when cutting so that you don’t destroy the shape of the plant. Pine trees, holly with berries and nandina make nice accents for arrangements, wreathes or centerpieces. Ornamental grasses, stems and seed heads are beautiful when added to arrangements and don’t have to be replaced for years. Your herb bed can be a wonderful source of inspiration. Herbs like rosemary, bay, artemisia, sage and oregano can be used in a wreath or swag that can be enjoyed all year.
Plants make great holiday gifts. If you buy poinsettias be sure that the potting soil is not too dry. They need to be kept in temperatures between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t tolerate changing temperatures. Christmas cacti and amaryllis are always welcome gifts. If you purchase plants in a pot wrap, be sure that the wrap has not plugged the drain hole. Don’t over water and be sure water is not pooling in the foil wrap.
When you get a warmer weather day, take advantage of it and start adding organic matter to beds and your garden area so that they will be ready for planting in spring. Fallen leaves are a good source of organic matter so leave the leaves! Instead of throwing them in the dumpster, add them to your compost bin or layer them on garden beds. Remember it is all about the health of your soil.
On an inside day, study the seed catalogs and websites and place orders for seeds. It is also a good time to plan out your garden for next year. Vegetables do best when the aeas they are grown in change annually. Record your thoughts about your garden or what you noticed this year so that you don’t forget by Spring. And, if you have vegetables that you are growing outside, consider purchasing or building row covers so that you can extend the harvest.
And don’t forget your lawn! Warm season grass like Bermuda will be going dormant now but will still need to be watered about once a month. If you have a cool season grass such as Fescue just continue with your normal watering schedule.
Get your yard ready for Christmas guests by planting and brightening your winter landscape with cool bedding plants such as pansies, violas and ornamental cabbage. And on the warmer days, get outside, walk your garden and see what changes December has brought.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.