It seems as though December comes around oftener than any other month of the year. It is the month with the most hustle, bustle, fun – and expense. That’s the opinion of a family man, but speaking as a gardener it is a varied month, for in December we are concerned with red poinsettias for Christmas, white lilies for Easter, seeds that will bloom next summer and carnation cuttings for fall.
Poinsettias and other Christmas gift plants as well as baskets of mixed plants are sometimes a problem when it comes to making them last as long as possible. Of course, the house temperature controls to a great extent the amount of moisture required by plants. The rule is to keep them moist but not soaked. Plants require less water when in flower than at other times. Poinsettias need a little extra care to prevent their leaves from turning yellow and dropping. A drafty fireplace, blasts of cold air from open doors, drafts from open windows all cause leaves to turn yellow and drop. After all, the poinsettia is a tropical plant.
Seed Cataloges are in the mail now with beautiful pictures and glowing descriptions. Lots of new varieties are listed too and no doubt they’ve all been tested on trial grounds. By all means, try some but also stick to the old reliables for your main crops, the ones you know are suited to your soil, growing conditions and exposure.
Plants in Coldframes need extra protection now, particularly semi-tender ones such as chrysanthemum stock plants and half-hardy perennials like nierembergias. Pansies, English daisies and forget-me-nots can be covered lightly with salt hay.
Airing the frame is very important in mild weather. Prop one end open with a flower pot for an hour or two. Check the need for water and water only during warm spells. In extremely cold weather the snow acts as a blanket but don’t leave it on the frame when the weather warms up or the plants will be smothered.