Lots of gifts from your local Home Depot garden center would please the green thumb on your holiday shopping list. Consider practical items like pruners, garden carts, or a raised bed garden kit. Fun presents might include a new bird feeder and a couple of bags of seeds to stock it. If your recipient is a weather-watcher, try a weather monitoring station or wireless digital thermometer. Gardening friends and relatives will also appreciate a certificate to dig a hole and help plant a tree, or a pretty holiday plant dressed up in shiny foil.
- Keep poinsettias in a sunny window where the daytime temperatures stay around 60 to 70 degrees F. Avoid placing them near heat vents or cold drafts.
- If you prune evergreens, bring the boughs indoors to add to a centerpiece or vase. Their spicy fragrance will perfume the house. Add red berries from nandinas or hollies as accents.
- Tie up junipers and other upright plants that might sag or break under the weight of frozen snow; branches become brittle while plants are dormant. Gently shake off heavy snow, but don’t worry about the lightweight, fluffy stuff.
- Cyclamens planted outdoors may need to be watered if rain is scarce. Otherwise, they’ll be happy in a sunny spot with soil that drains easily. Flowers appear in mid to late winter.
- Regularly check any summer bulbs in storage. If you see signs of rot, try to salvage them by cutting out the bad spots. If entire bulbs look bad, throw them away. Lightly mist the storage medium with warm water, if needed, to keep the roots from completely drying out and dying.
- Prune diseased or dead wood from deciduous plants during spells of mild winter weather.
- Chewed bark at the base of trees usually signals hungry mice, voles, or other creatures. Clear away mulch and vegetation around the base to eliminate hiding places. Then encircle the trunk with a 2′ high wire mesh cage buried a few inches below the soil.
- Prune the old canes of everbearing raspberries to the ground this month. Rake off leaves and other plant debris that might harbor diseases over the winter.
- Mulch root crops with weed-free hay or straw. Mulching helps prevent heaving, which happens when the ground moves up and down as it freezes and thaws. Heaving can push your crops out of the soil.
- Protect roses when the temperatures drop into the 30s and below by putting bark mulch around them; allow the mulch to cover the graft union, or the swollen area on the stem. Old fashioned roses and shrub roses are usually hardy enough to make it without heavy mulching.