RIDGEFIELD, CT — The longest night of the year is just weeks away, but Ridgefield’s gardeners remain focused on light, life and things growing.
The city is fortunate to still enjoy some milder days in early December. Lisa Chuma, a member of the Ridgefield Garden Club, says homeowners should use this to stay one step ahead of the deer.
“Wrap all logs, especially smaller trees, in burlap or deer fencing to prevent deer from either eating the bark or rubbing their antlers and ruining your small trees.” Practice the same preventive strategy on any delicate or small shrubs. Wrapping them in burlap protects them from snow and ice damage, as well as deer, she said.
Christmas stars rule the homes of Ridgefield in December. Her mileage may vary, but Chuma told Patch she’s capable of keeping her poinsettias fresh as daisies through Easter. Their secret is to give them just the right amount of water — about a cup every two or three days.
“You don’t want them to sit in the water, just keep giving them little bits of water to satisfy them.” She also makes a point of removing any dried or dead leaves or petals throughout the month.
Though its vibrant red and green coloring has made the poinsettia a December favorite, it’s not the only flowering houseplant worthy of attention, Chuma said. Narcissus papyraceus, one of the few species known as Paperwhite, “looks like a little white daffodil,” the gardening expert said.
“And you can just stick the bulbs in soil or even a little bit of gravel or decorative little rocks in a sunny spot, water them, and they’ll grow big and have pretty little white flowers in a couple of weeks.”
Amaryllis bulbs planted now will bloom in late January, Chuma said, but it’s worth the wait as they produce huge trumpet-like blooms that are “really pretty … red and white and pink.” Amaryllis flowers that are already potted can score big at both grocery stores and garden centers, “and it’s a great way to add some Christmas color to your home”.
But the main botanical event of December is the Christmas tree, and Chuma has some advice on how to get the most out of your live pruning. She suggests that you have your tree vendor cut “a good two to three inches from the trunk” before netting and strapping it to the roof of your car.
“So it will absorb as much water as possible when you bring it into your house,” Chuma said. “And just water it consistently for the first few days, it could be multiple times a day.”
Make sure your tree stand is large enough to provide 1 gallon of water per inch of trunk diameter. And as shocking as it may seem, all your tree needs is fresh water, so don’t use any of those powdered additives.
All this water will not only help your tree keep its needles and stay healthy and green until Epiphany, it will also minimize the risk of fires.