Plant deciduous trees and shrubs after they have gone dormant.
Pruning and Cleaning Up
Not so Clean Up: Most current Landscape Architects and Garden Designers encourage leaving as much spent material standing as possible throughout the winter months to provide cover and food sources for over-wintering insect and bird populations. Try to train your eye to see the architectural beauty of skeletal forms of tall perennials like echinacea and rudbeckia, and leave their seed heads intact for nuthatches, finches and mockingbirds to survive the winter months. Commercial seed is too limited and nutritionally empty to support them through the winter. So you’re not being lazy - you are doing a very important good to provide essential species survival!
You can cut perennial stems back to 3-4" from the ground after several hard frosts.
December to February is a good time to prune albelia, privet, smoke tree, sumac and all evergreen trees and shrubs.
Fertilize and Mulch
Fertilize only as needed. The wet weather has stimulated growth for many plants.
Pine needles, rotted sawdust, straw, and leaves make great mulch. If adding mulch, good to wait until after the ground freezes.
Probably time to turn off garden faucets and to drain hoses.
As it gets cold, move containers to a greenhouse or sink them in the ground.
Prepare greenhouses or cold frames for winter use and get ready to use them if the weather turns cold.
Cut back on watering many houseplants until April when new growth resumes. Cyclamen should be watered through the winter.
Pot amaryllis bulbs 8 weeks before you want them to bloom but use a pot that is the right size. There should be no more than 1" of space on each side of the bulb and 1/3rd of the bulb should be above the soil line.
Tip for Every month:
Keep your tools clean. Clean your tools after every use. Take care of your hoses and watering cans.
Wear gloves. Use gloves for all of your gardening chores. Gloves will keep your skin out of direct contact with toxic plant substances. Remember, when handling peat moss you can avoid a serious fungal infection (sporotrichosis - also called 'rose gardener's disease') if you wear gloves.
Please Beware of Giant Hogweed. Giant Hogweed is in our area (Fredericksburg) It is a member of the wild carrot family native to Asia and can reach heights of 6-10 feet. It looks like a giant Queen Anne's Lace as it grows. It is highly toxic! Do NOT touch, pull, brush against, or weed-whack this plant. Do NOT handle this plant. Do NOT try to remove this plant yourself. Direct contact with this plant sensitizes the skin to the sun and leaves 3rd degree burns. If you see or suspect Giant Hogweed take digital photos of the leaf, stem, and flower and contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office. (photo Robert Videki, Doronicum Kft.)