December Gardening Activities - Region 6
Gardening Tips for December
Tropical and Sub-Tropical Gardens
States in the region:
Hawaii, Florida (Southern), Texas (Southern), Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
and other U.S. Territories
Key Issues for December
- Delight children this holiday season with the gift of gardening! Growums garden kits are designed to show kids and adults alike how awesome and easy it is to grow their own vegetables and herbs – and they encourage kids to eat healthy foods! Six fun garden themes are available (Herb, Pizza, Ratatouille, Salad, Stir-Fry and Taco), as well as three mini kits (Fruit Cup, Melon Blast and Pumpkin Patch). Visit Growums.com to learn more!
- Help your cut Christmas tree last through the holidays: Keep it moist and choose a spot away from drying air ducts and any heat sources, including TVs, radiators and fireplaces. (Remember, dry plant material is a fire hazard! Keep your trees watered and fresh.)
- Establish self-sufficient plants. Spot-check any newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials for watering needs. If there’s been no rain for a week, you need to drag out the hose and water your plants. Remember, newly installed sod needs water, too!
- Take frequent walks through your garden and landscape this time of year. Besides being good exercise (and a great stress reliever), walking amid your plants allows you to carefully inspect what you’re growing. Take note of any plant discoloration, which may indicate nutrient deficiencies or pests at work. Controlling garden pests like scales and mealybugs (both common this time of year) is relatively easy when infestations are small and found early.
- Give a personalized, inexpensive gift for the holidays that keeps on growing: seeds from your garden! Homemade holiday cards and ornaments containing seeds are as fun to make as they are to give – and grow!
- Deck the halls with a traditional holiday favorite: the poinsettia. Today’s beauties come in a variety of colors, including the classic red, as well as shades of white, pink, purple and mottled/spotted. (Fun fact: The poinsettia is actually a medium-sized deciduous shrub native to western Mexico!)
- Buy cyclamen, amaryllis (in bud) and other holiday plants early, so you’ll have weeks – not days – of enjoyment.
- Look to your garden and make affordable holiday wreaths and swags. There are many native hollies with lovely ripe berries this time of year that are good for clipping.
- Plant holly berries in your landscape. Many species, including Ilex x attenuata ‘East Palatka’, are important sources of food for wildlife. Choose a sunny, open spot for these showy plant species.
- Plant an herb garden. Parsley, sage, dill, oregano, thyme, rosemary – and more – can be planted now.
- Plant vegetables for a winter harvest. (Yes, there’s still time!) Good choices for your region this time of year include lettuce, carrots, broccoli, squash, green beans, cabbage, tomatoes and those flavor-filled herbs!
- Fertilize winter vegetables and annuals, always reading and carefully following label instructions.
- Take extra harvested vegetables and fruits to a local food pantry or shelter. Fresh food is always appreciated – and ’tis the season to be sharing!
- Get a compost keeper for the kitchen. (Consider adding it to your holiday “wish list.”) Some produce scraps you’d otherwise throw away can be used to make great compost for your spring garden.
- Transform your warm-region winter garden: Create a tranquil outdoor seating area for relaxing, or set up a festive space to entertain your holiday guests.
- Clean your garden tools. They’ll work best (and easiest) when they’re properly cared for and sharpened. (A nice present for the other home gardeners in your life is to have all of their tools professionally sharpened.)
- Deadhead (remove) the old blooms from annuals to keep your plants flowering, and cut some fresh ones for indoor enjoyment.
- Keep an eye out for aphids, caterpillars and thrips in the garden. These pests can occur quickly on hibiscus, ixora, croton and many other plants in full growth and bloom. Avoiding chemical use is the best option – for you, your family and the environment. But if chemical control has become your last resort, apply chemicals safely and carefully, using a recommended insecticide according to all label instructions. (Remember, not all pests are controlled equally. Which product you require depends on the pest and plant in question!)