Our temperate climate and generally mild winter allows us to plant practically year-round (we’re so lucky)! It’s still a good time to plant deciduous trees and shrubs.

For Fresh Color

We had a stunning fall season, but now that most leaves have dropped, we look forward to the stars of the winter garden. Yuletide Camellias, Cyclamen, Wintergreen loaded with berries, Coral Bark Japanese maples, colorful heaths, and Red Twig Dogwoods all show vibrant shades of red or crimson right now and will look great in containers and flower beds for the winter.

Our year-round resident Anna’s Hummingbird loves to visit winter-blooming camellia blossoms for sips of nectar to stay warm and energized. If you prefer pink over red, Camellia ‘Pink-a-Boo’ is a cultivar of ‘Yuletide’ and blooms around the same time with lightly fragrant, perfectly pink flowers that are equally loved by hummers!

Buy a poinsettia or Christmas cactus for some festive indoor color. Protect poinsettias from cold, give plenty of light, and don’t let the leaves touch cold windows.

Monitor houseplants for adequate water and drainage, and watch for pests and other early signs of trouble. Water and fertilizer requirements are generally less in winter; plants may struggle with low humidity as our indoor air becomes dryer from our use of heaters and fireplaces. Increase humidity levels by misting plants frequently or use a pebble tray under extra needy plants.

If you need to move a large indoor floor plant to accommodate your Christmas tree, be sure to keep the plant away from furnace/heater vents, cold windows, and drafts from frequently used doors.

Take a walk through the garden center to see what catches your eye!

For the Lawn & Landscape

Keep an eye on the weather and protect new plantings as necessary. Harvest Guard or floating row covers are easy to use and offer tender plantings a degree of winter protection. Wind can also be a damaging force—use stakes to tie up plants, provide windbreaks, and/or apply a product like MoistureLoc to help plants retain moisture and reduce evaporation during extreme weather.

Make sure plants in sheltered or protected sites receive adequate water. Especially vulnerable are container plants, greenhouse/cold frame plants, and areas under deep eaves. Be sure new plantings and evergreens are well-watered before cold weather arrives. If heavy frost warnings or below freezing temperatures are in the forecast, water plants before it freezes—use a watering can or bucket if hoses are stored for the season.

Watch for drainage problems during heavy rains—berms, swales/rain gardens, and French drains are all great solutions to poor drainage. Consider a rain garden or bioswale as a sustainable, long-term solution. Call our landscape department to arrange for services at 503.777.7777.

Turn compost piles and cover with a tarp to protect from heavy winter rains.

Keep up with weeds that sprout at this time of year; short-spurts of weeding done during this time can greatly reduce your spring weed crop! Be sure to scatter some Sluggo or Slug Magic slug bait while you are out there—slugs remain active during mild weather and you can significantly impact the future population by controlling them now!

For the Edible Garden

Do a soil test for pH and primary nutrient levels (use a home test kit or consult the Master Gardeners for where to mail one in). Spread wood ashes from the fireplace evenly on vegetable gardens, but only sparingly, use no more than 1.5 lb/100 square feet per year. Don’t use ash if the soil pH is greater than 7.0 or if potassium levels are excessive.

Shelter bare patches of garden soil with a layer of mulch, compost, or shredded leaves to reduce erosion/compaction from rain.

In the Garden Shed

Have a supply of frost blankets, burlap and/or row covers for last-minute plant protection. Landscape staples, clothespins, or office binder clips are useful to keep covers in place.

For Fun

Fill unused/empty flower pots and outdoor containers with soil (or use leftover soil); purchase fresh-cut branches of evergreens like noble fir, incense cedar, juniper, and holly to make festive outdoor arrangements in deck and patio planters. Add outdoor ribbon and lights to shine for the holidays.

Feed the birds in the garden; now is a great time to bird-watch from the kitchen window and admire tiny flocks of finches or bushtits feasting on the last seeds of fall. Keep feeders clean and refill regularly.

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