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RHS monthly jobs

Monthly jobs

Keep Clivia miniata plants cool (around 10°c / 50°f ) from November to February to stimulate spring flowering

Feed the birds

Replenish birdfeeders as they run down and provide fresh water for birds for drinking and bathing

Hyacinth

Brighten cool indoor rooms with seasonal hyacinths, cyclamen, florist’s azalea of hippeastrum.

Grasses

Leave grasses uncut as the bases of their stems provide valuable hibernating places for beneficial insects.

Monthly jobs

Continue to harvest Brussels sprouts, leeks, kale and parsnips

Daphne bholua

Plant fragrant winter-flowering shrubs such as Daphne bholua, Viburnum farreri and V. bodnantense

Kitchen garden

  • Clear any remaining plant debris from the vegetable plot
  • Protect cleared soil with polythene to keep soil dry for winter digging
  • If gardening on wet soil, work from a scaffold board rather than standing directly on the soil to avoid compaction
  • Prune free-standing apple and pear trees, currants and gooseberries
  • Avoid pruning cherries and other stone fruit until late spring to avoid silver-leaf disease
  • Apply grease bands around trunks of fruit trees to protect against flightless female winter moths
  • Prune grape vines before mid-December to avoid bleeding
  • When soil is not frozen, continue to plant fruit trees and bushes
  • Divide and replant rhubarb into prepared soil that has been enriched with plenty of organic matter
  • Lag outdoor taps and hose points to protect them from freezing
  • Sort out seed boxes and plan what is to be grown next year.
  • Order fresh seed

Ornamental Gardens

  • Apply mulch to borderline hardy plants such as Agapanthus and Phygelius
  • Move permanent container plants such as Camellia or Agapanthus to a sheltered position against a house wall.
  • Wrap large tubs that are unable to be moved, with bubble plastic to protect plants’ roots from freezing.
  • Bring any smaller tender plants into the greenhouse or a cool room to protect from frost
  • Erect a wire enclosure around tender plants in garden borders such as Musa basjoo, and pack with straw to protect their stems and roots from frost
  • Continue to lift and divide herbaceous perennials if weather and soil conditions permit
  • Prune Acer and Birch (Betula sp.) trees before mid-December to avoid bleeding from cut stems
  • Avoid pruning deciduous magnolia trees until the summer
  • Avoid pruning flowering cherries and flowering almonds (all Prunus species) until late spring to avoid silver leaf disease
  • Most deciduous trees and shrubs with the exceptions of those already listed can begin to be pruned this month
  • Plant winter flowering clematis such as C.cirrhosa and C. napaulensis
  • Do not walk on lawns during frosty weather as this will damage the grass
  • Use holly, ivy, crab-apples such as Malus Red Sentinel and pine cones for festive indoor decorations and wreaths

Glasshouse and indoor plants

  • Reduce the frequency of watering for indoor plants as growth slows in the cooler conditions and lower light levels
  • Move houseplants on to a sunny windowsill to make the most benefit of the reduced daylight
  • Ventilate greenhouses and conservatories on mild days
  • Ensure greenhouse heating systems are working properly
  • Keep citrus in a sunny but cool position indoors, as leaf-drop will occur if brought into a room where temperatures are too high
  • Take the opportunity to clean used pots and seed-pans ready for the spring

Pest and Disease Watch

  • Check fruit and vegetable produce in store for rots on a weekly basis and remove affected items to prevent it spreading
  • Check apples and pears for signs of canker and prune out affected stems where possible.
  • Check overwintering tubers and rhizomes of dahlias and begonias regularly for storage rots
  • Avoid wetting foliage when watering plants in greenhouses to minimise risk of fungal infections
  • Check for presence of greenhouse spider mite, mealy bug and scale insects on indoor plants and use a systemic insecticide to clear them before they build to large numbers
  • Place outdoor containers on bricks or pot-feet to ensure the drainage holes are kept clear of blockages
  • Net brassicas against pigeons and ensure tree guards are in place against rabbit predation
  • Apply organic winter washes to fruit trees to despatch overwintering insects and their eggs
  • Remove dead foliage and flowers that would be a source of botrytis infection
  • Clean moss and algae from paths

Wildlife gardening

  • Check wood piles before burning to ensure hibernating hedgehogs and toads are not present
  • If planning to plant new shrubs, include berrying species such as Sorbus, Pyracantha or Berberis to provide food for birds