Tips and advice on garden care in December
Even though you’ll spend most of December wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate, don’t forget your garden still needs some care. Our checklist will help you keep your outdoors looking it’s best for Santa’s visit.
December focus: Festive pot plants
Now the routine gardening has scaled down outside, it’s time to start decorating inside with some festive pot plants.
Poinsettias are the modern Christmas classic, and they make a wonderful festive addition to any home. With their bright red flowers, they fit perfectly into the traditional seasonal colour scheme and make striking centrepieces for your Christmas dining table.
Delicate in nature, poinsettias are sensitive plants, but with a little care and attention they can continue to look great throughout the holiday season. Learn all about caring for a poinsettia with our easy to follow guide.
Grow your own: Rhubarb
From delicious crumbles to home-made jams, rhubarb can be used in a whole variety of tasty treats. Growing your own is easy, and a healthy, well looked after plant could be fruitful for 10 years or more.
It's a bit of a waiting game, for the first year you’ll have to resist the temptation to harvest it, but when the second year comes around, you’ll have rhubarb from April to June.
Read our guide for all the help and advice you need to grow your own rhubarb.
Garden jobs for December
General garden jobs
- Carry out winter digging or forking over if the soil is not too wet or too frosty
- Fork over vacant ground; turning the ground over several times reduces soil pests naturally by exposing them to birds
- Clear away debris to prevent harbouring slugs and snails
Vegetables and herbs
- Harvest Brussels sprouts, Christmas broccoli, parsnips and leeks
- Store harvested vegetables in the shed, as long as it’s not damp
- Tidy plants in the greenhouse and conservatory, and water plants sparingly
- Sow onions
- Check bulbs in store and remove any going mouldy or soft before the rot spreads to their neighbours
- If it’s very wet or frosty keep off the lawn if possible, or protect it with a temporary path and sprinkle with sand if it’s slippery
- Remove the last of the dead leaves from the lawn
- Carry out lawn repairs if it’s not too wet or too frosty
- Make provisions to prevent the pond from freezing over by floating an inflatable ball on the surface. . If the water freezes over, place a pan of boiling water on the surface of the ice to melt a hole. Carefully hold the pan in place whilst it does its job.
Trees, shrubs and climbers
- If the soil is workable, plant or move deciduous woody plants such as trees, shrubs, roses and hedges. Dig them up once the leaves have fallen and re-plant them
- Renovate old trees, shrubs and climbers, but don’t cut them right back to nothing. Just cut out the oldest branches (the ones that are thickest with the darkest bark). Leave the other branches for now. Just remove a few each year and in 3 or 4 years you’ll have replaced the whole plant
- Sow seeds of hardy plants, such as lilies, Japanese maples and clematis
Patios and containers
- Plant seasonal outdoor tubs and hanging baskets for Christmas
- Prevent plant damage from wind and rain by moving tubs close to a wall so they are more sheltered from wind, and stand them on pot feet to aid drainage
- Put out additional food for birds throughout the winter when it’s harder to them to find their own
- Check bonfires before you light them for hibernating animals
- Be careful to look for sleeping animals in your compost heap before turning it
- Provide a shallow, low level container of water for garden visitors like hedgehogs and foxes
- Leave healthy herbaceous and hollow-stemmed plants unpruned until early spring - these can provide homes for overwintering insects
December garden project: Christmas trees
There's nothing quite like a real Christmas tree, but have you thought about planting it in your garden after Christmas? Imagine having your own gorgeous tree year after year to decorate.
A potted Christmas tree can be bought three weeks or more in advance, but stand it in a sheltered spot in the garden until you’re ready to bring it in and decorate it. For tips and advice on how to care for a real Christmas tree, read our guide.