December In The Garden

Ah, the holidays…. When people’s thoughts turn to lights, gift-giving, and that guy in the red suit.  But in all the hustle and bustle, don’t forget you have some pretty special plants in your garden that may need your attention.

Camellia Time!

December is Camellia Time!  Most of the Camellia sasanqua and similar ones are blooming now and if you are not familiar with them, then you are missing a treat!  Many gardeners wait until February or March for Camellias in the nursery, but by then many of the Camellia sasanquas are finished!

Blackcreek Nursery & Garden is all about our Camellia sasanqua.  It’s actually one of the most underestimated of all of the camellia species.  Each season the flowers start blooming in mid fall and bloom through to the first of January, then they’re gone for another season!

Camellia sasanqua is a great plant that can grow in shade or full sun.  They are bushy and dense and when the flowers fall they make a beautiful carpet of red white and pink petals.  They are great pollinator plants as well!  

Cut Those Camellia Blooms!

Enjoy the season with your Camellias.  Camellia blossoms have been a staple at our home for as long as I can remember. We use them to decorate for the holidays by adding them to our table centerpiece, fireplace mantle, and vases around the house.  It’s so nice to bring a little bit of color indoors!

Prep For Cold Weather On All plants

Make sure your plants are well hydrated in the event of a cold snap. Dry plants will burn from being too dry.  Keep your plants well-watered during the winter.

Cover small plants with sheets or frost blankets, NOT plastic or heavy blankets.  Plastic can get hot if the sun shines on it and can burn plants.  Heavy blankets could crust some plants or break limbs.  Frost blankets are thin sheets of polyester fiber that can keep your plants up to 6-8° warmer.  They are easier than blankets and if wet, the water and sunlight go right through.  They are also reusable for many years.  We use Dewitt Frost Blankets and you can purchase them online at various sources including Amazon.  It’s a nice thing to have on hand before a frost or freeze.

Mulch Your Plants

Make sure your plants have a good layer of mulch. Mulch and Plants have a hand-in-hand relationship. As it decomposes, mulch provides added protection from heat and cold stress as well as vital nutrients to the plants.  Pinestraw, Bark, or any organic mulch is recommended and 3-4″ thick is a good idea.  Mulching helps minimize the roots from damage in cold weather.  Synthetic mulch such as rubber mulch is not a benefit to your plant and should be avoided.   Rocks are also not a suitable mulch for anything but a rock garden with rock plants.

Did you know that You can and should apply mulch to containers as well?  It makes them pretty, helps prevent weeds and it also helps insulate them from cold, heat, and water evaporation

Protect Plants In Containers

Plants in containers are less protected than plants in the ground.  There’s not much insulation for the roots in containers so preparing them for cold weather is essential.  Make sure they are well hydrated before a freeze. Preferably move them somewhere away from the cold winds such as on a porch, garage or garden shed.  Insulate the pot with a heavy blanket and also cover the top with something lightweight.

Limit Plant Feeding

It’s best not to feed your plants during December unless they are indoors or otherwise protected from winter weather.  Adding fertilizers at this time of year could encourage the plants to grow, which could be damaging to the plant if you get a frost or freeze.  If you feel you must fertilize, use an organic fertilizer such as Holly-Tone™  or Bio-Tone™ which is low in nitrogen and good for the roots.

Pruning Plants In The Garden

You should limit any pruning to just snipping to shape.  Keep major pruning on hold until late winter or very early spring.  This is especially true with some plants that depend on the current growth for next season’s flowers like Hydrangeas and fruit like Blueberries.   We know it’s tempting to want to tidy them up, but pruning some plants too early can prevent flowers or fruit in the spring.