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Illinois Green Industry Association--the resource for industry professionals in Illinois--to provide garden tips to our valued gardening consumers in and surrounding Illinois.


Gardening Tips for December 

Tis the season to be jolly… isn’t that what they say?  If it’s the season to be jolly, how come everyone I talk to is anything but jolly? Stressed about shopping, family gatherings, decorating, money… you name it, someone is stressed out about it. 

Did you know that gardening helps to reduce stress for many people? There’s something about the nurturing nature of gardening that makes us all feel better on the inside. Yeah, but it’s winter, right? There are many things that you can do in the winter that can give you that ‘just in from the garden feeling’. Here are just a few ideas that might help you avoid getting the winter blahs, and just might help to reduce your stress level as well! 

  • Get a fresh cut Christmas tree! Take the family out to your local nursery and pick out your Christmas tree!  Live trees bring wonderful fragrance into your home and are so much fun to decorate!  The natural branch spacing is perfect for ornaments of all shapes and sizes! For information on selecting and caring for your fresh Christmas tree visit ohioline.osu.edu/for-fact/0049.html

  • Get a poinsettia, give a poinsettia. The only thing better than getting is giving, right? Poinsettias come in a plethora of colors and are sure to brighten anyone’s day! The ICN Pro at your local garden center will be able to give you tips on keeping your poinsettia looking its best.  If you have children, grandchildren, or if you have never read it yourself, you should read Tomie dePaola’s The Legend of the Poinsettia. Be sure to check out these web pages regarding poinsettia care and the poinsettia legend.

  • The Christmas Cactus is another fantastic plant for the winter months. There are a few different species. Some bloom around Thanksgiving, others closer to Christmas. Lighting plays a key role in bloom time.  Christmas cactus’ are long-lived plants and often become family heirlooms. For more helpful information on caring for your Christmas cactus:

  • There are many houseplants to choose from that can help to clean the air in your home or office space. Be aware that some common houseplants are toxic to animals and children. Check out the following web sites for general houseplant identification and care, and to find out which ones might pose a risk to your children and pets. 

  • Bring some fresh cut greens inside. They bring wonderful fragrance, and are fantastic to use on mantels, or as a swag on your door. You’re sure to find many spots to use them, indoors and out! Outside, try using the greens with contrasting colored branches, like Red or Yellow Twig Dogwood or holly in your pots, or window boxes.

  • Hang some lights! You don’t have to go all out and have lights on every roof edge, tree, and window. The simple addition of lights on a single tree, or around your patio can be stunning. Many garden centers and nurseries have crews that can come and hang the lights for you! And, they also have crews that can help take them down! 

  • Let it snow! There are few things as beautiful as a cool, crisp morning and a sparkly fresh snowfall. But as beautiful as it may be, sooner or later we need to get some of that snow out of the way so we can get to school, work or the coffee shop. Many garden centers and nurseries have a snow removal service! Check with yours and get on their list now!

  • Force some bulbs! Hyacinths, paper whites, grape hyacinth, and crocus are all bulbs that are pretty easy to force into bloom indoors.  Some may require a cold period, before they will bloom well. Forced bulbs are excellent gift ideas and their happy faces can chase away the winter blahs from the weariest gardener! Get information and step by step instructions: www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-19.pdf

Your local garden centers and nurseries are ready willing and able to help you with all of your needs this winter!  Whether it be potting soil and pots for your new houseplants, bulbs to force indoors, or snow removal….your local garden centers can help! 

by Carey Boehm-Corrie, ICN Pro of the Year (2003), Boehm's Garden Center, Rushville, IL





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