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December 2009 Garden Calendar

Karen Jeannette, Yard and Garden News Editor
Including excerpts from the 2009 Minnesota Gardening Calendar

Korean pine tree in the MN Landscape Arboretum pine collection
MN Landscape Arboretum

It's not too late to protect your plants from Minnesota winter sunscald, animals, salt, snow, ice, and winter discoloration.  See: Protecting Trees and Shrubs Against Winter Damage

Mulch when the ground is frozen to keep the ground frozen, by applying a 4 - 6 inch layer of mulch (i.e. clean straw or leaves) over perennials or at the base of trees and shrubs.  Mulching to keep the ground frozen will help prevent those soil freeze-thaw cycles that can cause damage to roots and heaving of new plantings and perennials above the soil line.

Need to review which trees to select for Christmas?  See Kathy Zuzek's December 2008 article: It's Time for the Christmas Tree
Is your yard or garden ho-hum this time of year? Get inspired with Plants for Winter Interest  or visit your favorite full-size evergreens at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's arborvitae, pine, spruce, and dwarf conifer collections.

2010 Minnesota Gardening Calendar

The 2010 award winning 12-month Minnesota Gardening Calendar is available for sale. Full color photographs highlight each month. Also find timely tips for lawn, garden, and houseplant care, with a special feature: Using Vines in Minnesota Home Landscapes. Maps of average frost-free dates and USDA Plant Hardiness Zones for Minnesota are included. Extension's 18 Regional Centers are listed and information about horticultural programs, services, facilities, and
organizations in Minnesota are featured.

See a web preview and ordering information @

Below we share the 2009 December Minnesota Gardening Calendar tips:
  • Check Christmas tree stands daily, so they never run out of water.
  • Thumbnail image for MN2010gardencal.jpg
    Photo 2: 2010 Minnesota Gardening Calendar.
    Paperwhite narcissus are wonderful winter flowers. Buy some bulbs for yourself and to give as gifts.  With clusters of small flowers in white, cream, or yellow, they need to special treatment to bloom.  Plant them in pebbles or soil; just keep the base and roots wet.  Paperwhites do best in a cool location with good sun, but will bloom anywhere -- albeit on floppier stems that will need staking or tying to stay upright.
  • Choose a fresh Christmas tree that meets your needs. Balsam fir is more fragrant; Fraser fir is also fragrant and very popular. Norway pine has stiff branches and needles that will hold heavy ornaments, while white pine has fragrant needles that are softer and longer -- more appropriate for lightweight ornaments.  White spruce is excellent as a table-top tree, as is the tropical houseplant, the Norfolk Island Pine.
  • Though poinsettia sap may be irritating, the plant is not toxic when eaten. Unfortunately, some traditional holiday plants can be dangerous if eaten, though especially by a small child.  Set holly and mistletoe out of reach, and dispose of any berries that drop off.  Ornamental peppers aren't poisonous, but they can be so "hot" that tasting them, or even handling them and rubbing your eyes can be painful.
  • Take time to check stored dahlia tubers, canna bulbs, and produce such as potatoes or winter squash.  Look for shriveling, soft spots, mold, or other signs of trouble.  Discard damaged bulbs and tubers. Often rotting is a sign the bulbs were wounded when they were dug up, or that storage temperatures are too high or there's insufficient air circulation.

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