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Garden Gossip

December, 2019

Cumberland Spur Apples, Fresh Fruit-1500

Fruit Trees

If you can find the time, dormant oil can be used this month on your fruit trees. The spray is a refined petroleum product formulated for use in the fruit orchard. It kills overwintering insects and their eggs by putting a thin layer of oil on the tree which suffocates them. It should be applied when the temperature is above freezing and when no rain or freezing temperatures are forecast for at least 24 hours after you spray. This oil controls mostly mites and scale on fruit plants. We usually spray at least twice in the winter with this oil.

If you have been having problems with insects this year you could add some malathion to the oil spray. Follow the directions on the label for the amount to use.

Citrus Trees

Citrus trees can be sprayed with ultra fine oil mixed with Neem Oil. This helps to control greasy spot and mites. Greasy spot is caused by the fungus mycosphaerella citri. Greasy spot is a major disease on citrus. It causes premature leaf drop beginning in the fall continuing into winter and spring. As a result, the yields of the following years crops are reduced. Remember to take your citrus inside or cover with winter cloth when the temperature is below approximately 30 degrees. Place a couple of containers of water under the winter cloth of the trees that are too large to move into a warmer location or are planted in the ground. The water will give off the heat it collected during the day. If you have access to electricity you can place a light bulb or two under your winter cloth for added heat


Pansies can still be planted.  Better hurry though the selection is getting limited. Plant them in full sun to light shade in a slightly acid soil.  Use a water soluble fertilizer 15-3-20, 15-3-30, 13-2-13 are some suggested ratios. Avoid slow release fertilizers since they are less effective in the cooler weather. Watering pansies will vary with the season.  You will have to water more in the fall and spring and less in the winter months when it is cooler and the ground stays more moist.


Winter is a good time to plant camellias when they are in bloom. You can be sure to choose one you love.

Plant camellias in partial shade with protection from the hot afternoon sun. Camellias to not grow well in an alkaline soil they will show signs of stress including yellowing leaves. The ph should be 5.5-6.5.

Fertilize camellias in late winter with an azalea-camellia fertilizer or a general all purpose fertilizer such as 13-13-13.  Apply one half pound for each well established plant six to eight feet tall.


Spring flowering bulbs such as narcissus, leucojum, species tulips and many more can still be planted through December. Don’t forget the Bulb Booster!

If you were having trouble with vegetable production in your vegetable garden or plants in your flower border not doing as well as they should, while the garden is dormant it would be good to get a soil test. Call your county agent for a soil test kit and for a small fee you can find out what your soil needs to make your plants grown better. The proper ph of the soil is important for your plant to absorb the nutrients they need to make fruit or flowers.

Start planning for the spring and summer flower and vegetable garden. I am receiving quite a few seed catalogs now. All our 2020 seeds from Botanical Interest and Renee’s Garden Seeds are here. Take a look when you visit the retail shop.

Don’t burn all those fall leaves. Compost them. I till the leaves right into my vegetable garden. When spring arrives they have turned into compost.

All of us at Petals wish everyone a very Merry Holiday season. We look forward to serving all your garden needs in 2020.