Winter Gardening Tips

Tis the Season

The holiday season is upon us which means a rundown of winter planting and festive decor with Eliza Fournier from the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Hemlock with Burlap Wind BreakWinter Garden Care

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  • Wrap your evergreens to prevent damage from salt spray and winter burn.
  • Erect a "fence" with stakes and burlap on the street or windward side of the plant allowing for circulation, but providing protection.
  • Mulching is still OK to do now and will save you springtime work.
  • Watering at this point will not do much good since the ground is pretty frozen already and plants have entered dormancy.
  • Stock up on plant and pet-friendly de-icer.

Holiday Plants Demystified


  • Poinsettia selection and care: there are so many great varieties but steer away from poinsettias that have been sleeved, as it's hard to tell the quality and the plant has not had good air circulation.
  • Do not choose a plant that has a lot of green around the edges of the colored areas.
  • Do make sure your plant is sleeved/protected when you transport it home from the garden center.
  • Do remove any foil wrapping from around the plant's pot when you get it home as this can prevent proper drainage.
  • Do not place your poinsettia near an air vent, near drafty windows, or on top of radiators.


  • Amaryllis’ are great holiday plants and gifts, and they are almost foolproof.
  • When you receive a bulb, many times it will come with a pot and potting soil, which is great. If it doesn't, it's easy to find potting soil for indoor plants.
  • Plant the bulb up to its neck and place it in a warm, sunny spot.
  • Water infrequently until the stem emerges, then more as buds and leaves appear.
  • Your amaryllis will flower within 7-10 weeks and bloom stunningly for another 7-10 weeks.
  • With a little time and careful fertilization over the summer, your amaryllis can be made to bloom again next year.

Holiday Centerpiece

  • RosemaryRosemary is a wonderfully aromatic herb that unfortunately likes the Mediterranean climate a lot more than Chicago winters. It is tough to overwinter.
  • If you have purchased a nice rosemary plant this year and have had the foresight to bring it inside, with a little pruning, you can shape it into a Christmas tree shape, tie a ribbon around it, and it makes a wonderful centerpiece or mantle decoration.
  • If you put off pruning your evergreens this season, now is not too late.
  • Save the trimmed boughs and put them in Mason jars with ribbons, and they add a festive and fragrant ambience to the indoors.

View a slideshow of photos from the Chicago Botanic Garden.


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