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MASTERING YOUR GARDEN: December to-do lists

It's December 1 and although the Fall season will be ending soon, those to-do lists are ongoing into Winter

TYLER, Texas — December is here! If you're new to gardening, you may think it's time to stop managing your garden but according to our experts with the Smith County Master Gardeners, Fall is the best time of the year to plant followed by Winter.

Master Gardener Jolana Damkroger said now is the time to start planning your landscape for the next year.

"Think about if you want to introduce golds, reds or orange into your own yard,"  Damkroger said . "You should consider what plants will be in the sun or shade, be exposed to wet or dry weather and which plants are cold hardy or heat tolerant."

Damkroger explained that you should stop watering now, but you can mow laws until the first frost.

"St. Augustine is prone to brown patches so mow that when its completely dry."

For mulching, fallen leaves and pine straw works well as a cheap and readily available resource.

"I use [pine straw] around my azaleas, roses, ferns and other plants in my shade garden because it's not going to move. The wind is not going to blow it away and the rain won't wash it away."

When it comes to caring for your bulbs, chill tulips and hyacinth bulbs in the refrigerator 6 weeks before planting. It is suggested you plant them between Christmas and mid-January. 

"Tulips and hyacinths should be in the refrigerator but not near apples," Damkroger said. "The gas that comes off apples will actually rot your bulbs."

Other plants to pot right now for winter bloom include amaryllis, paper whites and hilled hyacinths. It is recommended you sow your bluebonnet, poppy and larkspur seeds this time of year. 

Replenish mulch 3-4 inches, paying attention to tender plants and tropicals which need 10-12 inches depending on the root depth. 

You should keep beds weeded as cool season weeds do not take the Winter season off. Don't forget to trim your trees making sure to cut limbs flush with the branch collar at the trunk or next to another limb. 

Finally, now is the time to bring in your glass rain gauges, ceramic and terra cotta planters and any other breakable lawn art before the first freeze.

Fountains and watering hoses should also be drained, with extra protection around pipes.

"Protect your faucets from freezing in the Winter by installing a cover." Damkroger said.

If you would like more advice from the Smith County Master Gardeners or, if you need assistance with your garden, you can reach them through Facebook or by emailing Smithmghelpdesk@gmail.com

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