December Garden To-Do List
Although there’s not a lot going on in the garden this month (which is good because chances are your time is full of other commitments), here are some things you can do for your landscape in December.
Work on plans for next year’s garden. Pull out the notes you’ve made throughout the year and make any revisions on paper before tackling the projects in spring.
Maintain your gardening tools: oil shovels, picks and spades to prevent rusting. Clean, sharpen and oil other tools to keep them in good shape for when you need them in the spring.
Add color to your garden. There are still a lot of varieties available in both annuals and perennials. Plant a combination of red and white flowers for holiday cheer. Options include African daisy, alyssum, bacopa, begonia, cyclamen, dianthus, geranium, gerbera, impatiens, pansy, salvia and verbena. Poinsettias will be happiest on a drip system, which keeps leaves dry.
Plant artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, kale, lettuce, peas, potatoes and radishes.
Plant bare-root fruit trees and prune established fruit trees once they’ve dropped their leaves.
Fill in thin spots on the lawn with a little more seed. During a warm spell, add supplemental water. Mow as necessary.
Stop watering and fertilizing established roses and let them harden unless we get a heat wave. Plant bare-root roses and transplant existing roses if needed. Remember to take as much of the roots as possible and to keep roses well watered when transplanting.
Test run your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. If it rains, turn the system off and save the water.
Natives can be pruned lightly now in order to maintain a uniform shape. Cut back grapevines and wisteria. Remove long, thin wisteria branches that have become intertwined with the old wood.
Plant your bulbs if you haven’t done so yet. Bulbs that don’t need to be refrigerated can be planted until Dec. 25. If you wait longer than that, you run the chance of having fewer, smaller flowers. Other bulbs with higher cold requirements need to be planted in cold soil. Plant between Christmas and New Year’s if the weather is cool. Otherwise wait until the soil temperature drops, but be sure to plant before Jan. 10.
Protect tender plants from frost by covering them with a nonplastic material when frost threatens. Keeping plantings well hydrated will help frost survival also. Should frost damage your garden, don’t prune damaged plant parts. They’ll help protect the plant from further damage should another frost occur. Trim these parts off when all risk of frost has past.
Alissa Adams-Simmons, Sales Manager
Briggs Nursery & Tree Co.
1111 Poinsettia Ave.
Vista, CA 92081