5 Dumb Gardening Mistakes Not to Make Now
December is a low-stress time for gardening, because let's face it, not much is going on now. Still, some of you always manage to screw up what little there is. Until this year. Follow Grumpy's expert advice and minimize those wintry disasters.
Dumb Mistake #1 – Fertilizing.
Dormant plants don't need fertilizer, so unless you live in south Florida, winter is a bad time to apply it. Nitrogen (the most important and expensive fertilizer nutrient) will wash through the soil without being absorbed by roots and end up polluting streams, lakes, rivers, and ground water. Do not fertilize lawns and outdoor plants until they start growing again in spring. Houseplants don't need fertilizing now either. They're resting.
Dumb Mistake #2 – Pruning spring-blooming shrubs and trees.
Plants like azalea, rhododendron, forsythia, saucer magnolia, dogwood, loropetalum, lilac, common camellia, and mockorange have already set their flower buds. Cutting them back now removes the flower buds and all you get next spring are leaves.
WATCH: Learn the Right Time to Prune
Dumb Mistake #3 – Leaving clay pots outside in the open.
Plants love growing in clay pots, because the porous material allows moisture to slowly move through it and helps prevent overwatering. However, when clay absorbs water and then freezes, it chips, cracks, and eventually falls to pieces. Store clay pots in a dry place unless you're OK with replacing them after a year or two.
Dumb Mistake #4 – Forgetting to bring indoors tropical and semi-tropical plants for the winter.
Unless you live where it doesn't freeze, this is a death sentence for plants like orchids, bromeliads, sago palm, Chinese hibiscus, crown-of-thorns, plumeria, peace lily, and Norfolk Island pine. Of course, given the fact that Norfolk Island pine eventually grows through the ceiling in most houses, I'll excuse you if you leave this one outside on purpose.
Dumb Mistake #5 – Feeding squirrels.
Well-fed squirrels make lots of babies. We don't need any more! Don't feed them. Let them do what these noxious vermin are supposed to do – gnaw on power lines and burst into balls of flame! I like my squirrels well-done.