• December: Maintaining Your Gardening Tools


    If you have not already done so, spend some time in your garden shed looking after your garden tools.  Clean and sharpen the blades of your digging and cutting tools.  Dry them completely and spray them lightly with a light oil.   Not only will your tools be ready for spring, but you will get a little gardening ‘pick me up’.

  • December: Forcing Paperwhites

    Paperwhites can be grown in either water or soil.  If using water, place a 4-6 cm layer of stone or glass chips on the bottom of a container.  Nestle the bulbs (flat bottom side down, pointed end up) into the stone so that the top third of the bulb is exposed.  Add water to just below the bottom of the bulb.  Place the container in a sunny spot until the leaves and buds develop – turn the container daily to get even growth.  Move out of direct sunlight once the buds begin to open.

  • December: Encouraging Young Gardeners

    Encourage your child or grandchild to develop an interest in gardening by having them grow a plant from a seed.  Place 3 toothpicks evenly around an avocado seed and suspend it in a jar of water so that the bottom is always covered in water.   The seedling which will eventually emerge can be transplanted into a pot when it is about 6 cm tall.  The same can be done with a sweet potato – be sure that there are several eyes above the toothpicks.

  • December: Living Christmas Trees

    A living Christmas tree needs time to adapt to the indoor environment.  Put your tree in a sheltered, cool spot such as your garage for a few days before bringing it into the warm, indoor environment.  Don’t keep it indoors for more than a week.  Before planting it outdoors in the hole you dug in November, move it back into the cool, sheltered spot for a few days to allow it to adjust to a cooler environment.

  • December: Cyclamens


    If cyclamens are given their preferred conditions – cool and bright indirect light – they can bloom for several months.  Keep them evenly moist by watering from the bottom.  Watering from the top could result in the crown rotting.  Feed with a 15-30-15 or similar  plant food once every four weeks.

  • December: Prepare for Winter Winds

    Now that the leaves are gone, take a walk around your garden with your saw or loppers, removing damaged or hanging branches that might cause further damage to your trees when battered by winter winds.

  • December: Remove Snow and Ice from Trees and Shrubs Carefully

    Gently sweep accumulated snow upwards. Do not shake or bang on branches; they break more easily when frozen.  It’s best to let the ice melt naturally, although on small evergreens, you could pour warm, not hot, water over the plants, if the resulting frozen pool below will not present a safety hazard. 

  • December: Caring For Your Poinsettia


    Poinsettias are sensitive to cold so protect them well as you move them from the store to home.  Once home, place them away from all drafts – warm and cold.  They prefer to be situated in a place where they receive indirect for at least 6 hours a day.  Water when the soil feels dry to the touch.  Be sure that they don’t sit in water.

  • December: Keep Plants Safe While Clearing Ice

    Salt-based ice melters are bad for your soil, plants and pets, and unfortunately, most home use products are salt-based (indicated by the word chloride). First, think about whether you actually need to remove the ice or just make it safe to walk in the area. Spreading sand, sawdust, non-clumping kitty litter  and ashes might be all you need to do. Chopping and shoveling the ice away is the next best step. And finally, if you must use ice melters, then look for calcium or potassium chloride mixtures as opposed to sodium chlorides. Use as little as possible and make sure to shovel the contaminated ice and snow away from your garden and lawn.

  • December: Enjoy Flowering Plants Indoors

    At this time of year, many of us bring home cyclamens and poinsettias or nurture amaryllis bulbs to produce spectacular blooms for the holidays. Entering those plant names in the search box to the right will lead you to lots of good information about their care. But don’t forget the lovely orchids, which are easier to grow than you may think and will reward you with blooms that will last through long winter weeks. Check out our Gardening Guide on the subject here.

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