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  • December garden tips & tasks

    It’s a good time to plant trees and shrubs. After you plant, mulch the ground around the tree, but don’t mound the much up around the trunk.

    Did you plant pansies? They need water. Give the soil a good soaking during dry weather.

    Discourage deer from browsing your garden by using strong-smelling repellents – either commercial products or homemade.

    Water houseplants regularly, but don’t allow the plants to sit in water. Most houseplants do well if you let he soil dry out slightly between waterings.

    Trees planted in fall require moisture, even if the weather is cold. If it hasn’t rained, check to see if the soil is dry, and provide water if it is.

    Keep bird feeders filled, and provide water for the birds that visit your garden.

    Houseplants that require a lot of light may need to be shifted to a sunnier location.

    A balled-and-burlapped evergreen that you use indoors as a Christmas tree should be planted as soon as possible after the holidays. Keep it in a heated room five days or less.

    Start several amaryllis bulbs at weekly intervals to have a continuous show of flowers in your home through the winter.

    Update your garden journal. Make notes on this year’s successes and challenges, and on changes that you want to make in your garden next year.

    Save the date

    Planners of the ever-popular Nashville Lawn & Garden Show announce that next spring's show will be March 2 - 5, 2017 at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The theme will celebrate Gardens of the Future with garden displays, lectures, vendors, floral designs, and special features for children. The centerpiece of the all-indoors event is, as always, the walk-through, interactive garden displays from some of Middle Tennessee's top landscape and gardening companies. Free lectures are planned each day on a range of garden-related topics, and visitors can shop the Marketplace with more than 150 vendors. Complete details will be available soon at http://nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com, where you can also sign up for the email newsletter and receive updates.

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Keep African violets blooming

QUESTION: My African violets were blooming beautifully when I got them a few months ago, but no longer. How can I get them to bloom again?

It’s easy to love those dainty clusters of blossoms rising from rosettes of downy leaves. African violets look like they’d be fussy plants, but quite the opposite: “They’re easy to grow if you know a few secrets,” says Julie Mavity-Hudson of the Nashville African Violet Club.

One of those secrets may surprise you: African violets tend to bloom better when they’re slightly root-bound, so don’t rush to move them to larger pots. They thrive in bright, indirect light and average room temperatures, in soil that is kept slightly moist. “The thing that kills more African violets than anything is overwatering,” Mavity-Hudson says.

Failure to bloom might be because the plant is not getting enough light. In winter, when the light is low, try moving it to a south or west window where the light is brighter, but move it away from the window when the light is more intense. Direct sun will burn the leaves of African violets.

A light feeding of high-phosphorous plant food every few weeks may also help. Houseplant expert Barbara Pleasant (The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual) suggests adding a light pinch of Epsom salts to water to push balky plants into bloom.

To get together with other African violet aficionados, check out the Nashville African Violet Club, which meets the first Sunday of most months,1:45, at the Green Hill Women’s Center,10905 Lebanon Road in Mt. Juliet. The meetings are open to the public.

 

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