December Garden Tips (for more great information visit www.AndersonsLaCostaNursery.com).
 
December marks the beginning of winter here in Southern California. The days grow cooler and shorter, shadows longer and plant growth comes to a near halt until sometime in February. Normally December fulfills its winter role with cold and rain although it can sometimes bring a heat wave that makes you swear that August has returned. So if the weather brings hot drying winds be prepared to hand-water your plants.
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If you're too busy to give the garden much attention this month you're in luck as most plants will do quite well with little help from you. So if you prepared for winter in the fall sit back and relax and enjoy the holidays. If you still haven't finished your fall gardening tasks don't worry the fall planting window hasn't quite closed just yet.
 
If you can find the time, working in the garden this month is wonderful. The weather is cool and when soil dries a little following a rain it's perfect for digging. However be careful not to go to work too quickly after a rain because working a wet soil can physically harm it. Grab a fistful and squeeze it lightly: If it crumbles when you loosen your grip it's just right; if it stays in a tight ball it's still too wet.

New Plantings

Azaleas and Camellias: Plant Azaleas and Camellias this month. Camellias and Azaleas are best planted while in bloom which is helpful because you can see what colors you are adding to your garden. Sasanqua Camellia is in bloom right now. Although the camellia sasanqua flowers are smaller than and not as long-lasting as the camellia japonica the plant blooms profusely and can take more sun.
 
Cool-Season Vegetables: Between harvests you can still plant most cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, lettuce and other greens, and root crops like beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips (see Summary Planting Guide Below).
 
Cool-Season Flowers: Bright colors make for a festive front yard. If you live in a mild coastal zone there is no need to wait for spring; you can still fill in those bare spots with flowers. , cyclamen, alyssum, holly, evergreens with lights and living wreaths of succulents make for living cheer and color (see Summary Planting Guide Below).
 
Wildflowers: Sow wildflowers. A generous definition of "wildflower" would be any annual or perennial that reseeds itself. Under this definition fall cosmos, gaillardia, annual gypsophila, foxglove, larkspur, nasturtiums, violas and viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare). Their display can last into early summer. {snippet 5min}
 

Garden Maintenance

Cymbidiums: Some cymbidiums start to bloom in December although most bloom between Febuary and March. Continue to feed the plants for bloom (low nitrogen fertilizer) until the buds open.
 
Native Plants: This is the growing season for California Natives so if the weather is dry water these plants. Native plants can also be pruned now.
 
Peaches: If your peach or nectarine had leaf curl (puckered, yellow and red leaves) this year spray it with lime sulfur at full leaf fall. If you sprayed your peach trees in November wait till January for the second treatment. Do not use this spray on apricot trees – select copper instead.
 
Start pruning now: The plants are as dormant as they will get here in California. Most all deciduous plants (those that lose their leaves in winter) get pruned in the winter.
 
Fruit Trees: Dormant spray deciduous fruit trees. Dormant sprays such as horticultural oils or lime-sulfur are applied after a deciduous plant has gone dormant and dropped its leaves. Dormant sprays are used to control over-wintering mites and insects such as scale.
 
Roses: Don't fertilize or water roses this month. They need to harden off for winter. In desert areas you may want to give them an occasional drink if you think they need it.
 
In those areas where frosts are just an occasional thing keep plantings well-watered so whenever a freeze threatens plants are more likely to survive. A "turgid" well-hydrated plant is better-equipped to recover than a dehydrated plant. If a plant is damaged by frost resist the urge to prune the damaged parts. They may well protect the rest of the plant during any subsequent frost.
 
Stimulate wisteria by cutting it back now. Cut back the long thin branches that appeared this season alongside or entangled with the older wood. Leave two or three buds at the base of the branch.
 
Lawn: If you've over seeded your lawn and there are bare spots feel free to scatter a bit more seed to fill in. Also, if the weather is warm and dry you may need to water the lawn.
 
Vegetables: Keep up with the harvest in the veggie garden and plant more if desired.
 
Asparagus: Planting asparagus at different depths will provide a longer harvest. The shallow asparagus will send up its spears early in the season and the deeper crowns will bear later.
 
Feed shrubs and trees that will bloom in January and February. If azalea and gardenia foliage is light or yellowish-green water with a solution of chelated iron.
 
kalanchoe.jpgProtect tender plants from frost. Move dish cacti and succulents and potted trees under cover for protection from cold and rain. For overnight protection when frost threatens cover bougainvillea, fuchsia, hibiscus, and other sub-tropicals with large cardboard boxes or drape old sheets or tarps on stakes over them.
 
If you plan to decorate a live Christmas tree indoors and then move or plant it outdoors afterwards choose a smaller size of tree as it'll adapt better than a more mature one.
 
Prune conifers and broad-leafed evergreens to shape them and provide trimmings for holiday decorations. Branches that hold their shape well indoors include incense cedar, fir, laurel, magnolia, oleander, pine, pittosporum, podocarpus and viburnum. The red berries from cotoneaster, nandina, and pyracantha always serve as a bright accent.
 
Norfolk Island pines (Hawaii's favorite Christmas tree) can become mini-Christmas trees with their own tiny lights and ornaments.
 
Living plants for indoor color include: African violets, azaleas, begonias, Christmas cactus, Christmas (Jerusalem) cherry, cyclamen, and kalanchoe, as well as the ever-dependable chrysanthemum and poinsettia. Be sure to give these living plants bright indirect light, keep them cool and out of drafts and water them just enough to keep the potting mix barely moist. Cacti and succulents are also good choices but they need direct sunlight and very little water.
 
Don't worry that your houseplants don't seem too perky now--they're going dormant just like plants outdoors. Plants need this rest so stop feeding them and water them less frequently. Also - be sure they're not getting blasted with hot air from a heater vent or fireplace. Plants close to windows may get too much cold air at night so move them or provide a shield between them and the window. The most comfortable temperature range for indoor plants is 65-75 degrees. Remember – if you are comfortable chances are your plant is too.
 
Continue to water your over-wintering outdoor plants unless the rains keep the soil moist. Irrigation should be reduced, not stopped, as plant photosynthesis slows down and cold weather dries plants out.

Summary Planting Guide

FLOWERS: African Daisy, Alyssum, Calendula, Canterbury Bells, Candytuft, Carnation, Cineraria, Columbine, Coral Bells, Cyclamen (from nursery plants), Delphinium, Dusty Miller, English Daisy, Foxglove,Gaillardia, Hollyhock, Iceland Poppy, Larkspur, Marguerite, Pansy, Penstemon, Primula, Shasta Daisy, Snapdragon, Stock, Sweet William, Viola
 
VEGETABLES TO PLANT: Artichokes, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Endive, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Onions, Peas, Radishes, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Turnips
 
 logo1241725257992.jpgAnderson's La Costa Nursery is Southern California's Most Unique Nursery. Anderson's La Costa is not your ordinary nursery visit - it is a truly unique garden experience. Browse more than 3000 kinds of plants including annuals, perennials, fruits and vegetables, trees, shrubs, orchids, cactus and succulents, houseplants, and water plants. Anderson's La Costa Nursery is located at: 400 La Costa Ave Encinitas, CA 92024 Tel: (760) 753-3153.You can also see all sorts of Special Offers and Discounts offered here at the Mulch .
 
If you have information like this for your region and would like to share it please let us know, we'll be sure to give you writing credit and  link back to your website! Click here to contact us.
 

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