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South Regional Reports

South: December Garden To-Do List

This ‘Velvet Cloak’ smoketree (Cotinus coggygria 'Velvet Cloak', Zones 5–8) is holding onto some of the last remaining fall color as the weather starts to turn. Photo: Andy Pulte

Winterize your irrigation system in areas where frost is possible if you have not done so already. Now is the time to avoid costly repairs later. Additionally, placing winter-freeze protection covers over your outdoor faucets in colder zones is advisable.

Don’t overlook the fresh-cut greenery that is found in your own landscape. You can extend the life of fresh-cut greenery by soaking stems in a bucket of water overnight, which will ensure they are fully hydrated before they are used in decorations.

Revitalize your containers. Experiment with attractive winter-interest plants in containers. A small conifer or deciduous holly (Ilex spp. and cvs., Zones 5–9) with berries might be perfect for a container. Enjoy these plants in containers now with the plan of adding them to your landscape come spring.

Evaluate your equipment. Take a look at your garden equipment this month. If anything is in need of repair, now is the time to take care of it. Sharpen and clean tools as part of the inspection process.

‘Sunny Foster’ holly
Take a look around your garden for winter decorating materials, like the foliage and berries of this ‘Sunny Foster’ holly (Ilex × attenuate ‘Sunny Foster’, Zones 6–9). Photo: Andy Pulte

—Andy Pulte is a faculty member in the plant sciences department at the University of Tennessee.

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