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December Gardening Specifics . . .

December 02, 1989|Clipboard researched by Kathie Bozanich, Susan Davis Greene and Janice L. Jones / Los Angeles Times

December is the month to plant blooming bulbs such as tulips, hyacinths, crocus and daffodils. Tulips and hyacinths need to be chilled six weeks before planting.

Most bulbs prefer a sandy, well-drained soil, so it is a good idea to incorporate organic matter such as redwood, peat moss and sand before planting. Keep bulbs on the dry side until the new shoots emerge then water regularly and fertilize with 10-10-15 every two weeks.

Prune bare root fruit and nut trees, asparagus, berries and grapes. Again incorporate organic matter before planting and water with B-1 to help initiate root growth. Apply a dormant oil spray to smother dormant insects, and mulch all newly-planted trees and shrubs to help protect from moisture loss and cold damage.

Plant amaryllis bulbs in early December for Christmas color. Plant one bulb per six-inch pot in a well-drained potting soil. Place in a sunny window and water sparingly until flower stalk appears.

Source: Susan Brozowski, Color Specialist, Garden Director, Sherman Library and Gardens

. . . . AND GENERAL DECEMBER CARE TIPS

Spruce up your container garden by filling it with colorful annuals or perennials that bloom in the winter. Remember to water if the containers sit under a covered area where the rains don't reach.

Tidy up around the lawn and garden--prune infected tree branches, keep fallen leaves raked and secure vining plants to trellises.

Look for your living Christmas tree now while there's a good selection.

Prepare plants for a cold winter by "hardening" them--holding back on nitrogen feeding in late fall and early winter discourages new growth.

Consider raising your flower beds for better drainage; this also allows accumulated salts to be leached out the soil.

Snails and slugs love the damp winter conditions so use natural or chemical controls to keep them from feeding on new bulb flower shoots and annuals.

When spraying to control pests and diseases in their dormant state, be sure to cover the plant from top to bottom and even on the undersides of the leaves and on the ground around the plant.

To keep weeds in check during the winter rains and give a neat appearance to your flower beds, weed now and apply a layer of mulch.

Plant roses, strawberries and fruit trees this month.

Have you sprayed your peaches and nectarines to prevent peach leaf curl? If not, do so immediately and then follow up with another spraying before the buds swell.

Source: California Assn. of Nurserymen

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