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Your gardening tasks for December

Houseplants x x x x Water houseplants with tepid water. Cold tap water may shock plants.
  x x x x Be sure newly purchased indoor plants are well protected for the trip home. Exposure to icy temperatures for even a few moments may cause injury.
  x x x x Overwintering geraniums like bright light and cool temperatures. Keep soils on the dry side.
  x x x x On cold nights, move houseplants back from icy windows to prevent chilling injury.
  o x x x Holiday Poinsettia basics: - sun for at least half the day. - keep away from drafts, registers and radiators. - night temperatures in 50's or low 60's, days at 70 degrees. - the soil should dry only slightly between thorough waterings. Discard the drainage. - be sure to punch holes in decorative foil wraps to prevent soggy soil conditions.
Ornamentals x x x x Hairspray works well to keep seed heads and dried flowers intact on wreaths and arrangements.
  x x x x Living Christmas tree basics: - dig the planting hole before the ground freezes. - mulch and cover the backfill soil and the planting hole to keep them dry and unfrozen. - don't allow the tree's roots to become dry. - spray with an anti-transpirant to reduce needle moisture loss. - store the tree outdoors in a cool, shady, windless area until the last minute. Mulch the roots to prevent cold injury. - set the tree up in your coolest room. - don't keep the tree indoors for more than one week. Plant outdoors promptly.
  x x x x Be sure the root zones of azaleas and rhododendrons are thoroughly mulched. Any organic material will do, but mulches made from oak leaves, shredded oak bark, or pine needles are preferred.
  x x x o Christmas trees hold needles longer if you make a clean, fresh cut at the base and always keep the trunk standing in water.
  x x x o Only female holly trees bear the colorful berries. There must be a male tree growing nearby for pollination, if fruits are desired.
  x x x o Hollies may be trimmed now and the prunings used in holiday decorations.
Miscellaneous x o o o Apply mulches to bulbs, perennials and other small plants once the ground freezes.
  x o o o All power equipment should be winterized before storage. Change the oil and lubricate moving parts. Either drain fuel systems or mix a gas stabilizing additive into the tank.
  x o o o Clean and oil all garden hand tools before storing for winter.
  x o o o If you feed rabbits corn or alfalfa, they may leave fruit tree bark unharmed.

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