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Gardening Q&A

Ask the Master Gardeners: December 2012




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Disclaimer:
Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.

November 28, 2012 | 1250 views | Post a comment

Q: A friend has given me a small decorated Norfolk Island pine for the holidays. Can I grow it outside when Christmas is over?

A: This cute tree is definitely not for our area. High temperatures will burn the needles; low temperatures of 30 to 32 degrees can kill the growing tip, and below 25 degrees can cause heavy freeze damage, according to Doug Welsh. When I lived in Kingsville, my son gave his teacher a small Norfolk Island pine. She planted it in a protected courtyard where it grew to over thirty feet and lived for many years. We are 159 miles above Kingsville (more chances for colder temperatures), but you could try planting it outside. Just don’t get too attached.

Q: Do I still have time to start amaryllis bulbs for blooming holiday gifts?

A: Yes, you do if you hurry. And even if you start late, I personally love watching the leaves and bloom spike come out of the pot. Buy a bulb and plant it in a small pot of decent potting soil. Have the top end of the bulb (the pointy end) sticking up out of the soil about one inch. Add water and bright light.

The Galveston County Master Gardeners are a bit more specific. They say to pot your amaryllis bulb in a container six inches wide and eight to ten inches deep with a drainage hole. Put a layer of pebbles on the bottom of the pot; then fill it half full with moist potting mix. Place the bulb root side down with the pointed end up on top of the soil. The upper third of the bulb should be above the rim of the container. Add more potting mix between the bulb and container; water thoroughly. Put the container in a warm location and keep the soil slightly moist. After the first growth appears, move the container to a sunny spot. Blooms will appear six to eight weeks after planting. In the spring, plant the bulb in your garden and you will have it for many years.

Q: I am looking forward to resting this winter and doing nothing outside. Is there anything I really have to keep up with in my yard?

A: If you have a vegetable garden, don’t forget to keep watering and fertilizing. The winter garden is always my best garden. My neighbor put in a cover crop of Elbon rye for the fallow part of his garden. The colder weather is also a great time to pull weeds. When plants freeze, do not cut them back until the spring. (Sometimes we get warm days during the winter and, if the plants have been cut back, they might be tempted to sprout new tender growth which could freeze.) Mow your lawn to keep down the winter weeds. By this time, your tomato plants are already moved to your porch or garage. Be prepared to cover freeze sensitive plants.

Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is guadalupecountymastergardeners.org. The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, on the second floor of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension building, 210 East Live Oak in Seguin.
 
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