Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Lower South

December, 2005
Regional Report

Keep Fallen Leaves Off the Lawn

Our southern turfgrasses slow their growth in cool temperatures but don't go dormant. Whenever we have a few warm days, they become more active, producing carbohydrates for better hardiness and stronger spring growth. Fallen leaves shade the turf and can stress it. Rake them up to use as mulch, or shred them with a mulching mower to recycle them into the turf.

Complete Tulip and Hyacinth Planting

Don't forget those tulip and hyacinth bulbs you've stored in the refrigerator. They should be planted by early January for best results. These are usually one-season performers in the south, so plan on reworking the beds in spring for summer color plants.

Recycle Your Christmas Tree

Many communities now offer Christmas tree recycling. Some chip the trees up for use in city parks and other public areas. Others tie weights to the trees and drop them in area lakes for fish habitat. Whatever the use, recycling these trees is a great idea! Call your County Extension Office or local nursery for information on recycling in your area.

Start a New Christmas Cactus

Want to start cuttings of your Christmas cactus? After the blooms are done, break off a section with four or five joints, and insert the basal end into a pot of moderately moist potting soil. Place a plastic bag over the cutting and secure it around the pot with a rubber band. Set it on a windowsill out of direct sunlight. The cutting should be rooted in three to four weeks.

Spread Manure Mulch

If you are fortunate to have access to manure from a local farm or ranch, now is a good time to apply a layer about an inch deep around fruit trees, as well as newly planted woody ornamentals. Then cover that with a few inches of leaves. Over the next few months the manure will break down, releasing nutrients slowly over the spring and summer months. Don't use fresh manure around vegetables or herbs.


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