This Month in the Garden – December



Mid-Atlantic Region

December Maintenance Guide

December can be a quiet time in the garden. Most of us are busy with other things, so the timing is good.  Here is some of what we are doing in our Zone 7b gardens.


  • I love Amaryllis at Christmastime! I start looking for the bulbs in October and begin planting them every other week. This way, I’ll have them blooming throughout the holiday season. It is also a good idea to buy after Christmas when they go on sale. Pot them up and enjoy during Valentine’s Day. Come spring, these bulbs can be planted in the garden.

  • Forgot to plant your spring-blooming bulbs such as daffs and tulips?  Not to worry, they can still be planted as long as you can work the soil.  A good rule of thumb is to plant with the pointed end up, at a depth 2 times the size of the bulb and add a bulb fertilizer to supply the nutrients necessary for a spring showstopper.  So, if the bulb is 2 inches from tip to root, then plant 4 inches deep.


  • Cut back Cannas after frost and put in the compost pile. Be sure the cut them back though, leaf rollers that might be present can over-winter in the plant. Using a large kitchen knife, a quick slice at the base of the plant makes short work of this garden maintenance task.


  • Cut back and remove Peony leaves after a killing frost. This helps prevent harboring of disease and tidies up the garden. Remember peonies need the chilling cold during dormancy for proper plant development.  So be careful when mulching, keeping the “eyes” exposed.  Peonies are heavy feeders and perform well using compost or well-rotted manure to feed. I like to use composted leaf mulch. Mulch around the plant. Usually an inch or two for established plants is all that is needed.


  • Prune roses about half their size.


  • Deck the halls with boughs of Holly. Whip out those clippers and look christmas-mantels-027around the garden. There is so much to use to add festive natural adornments to your home, both inside and out. Wreaths on the windows or door; accent the mailbox and the light post and reindeer holding court in your front garden greeting your visitors.


On a warm day this month, lightly fertilize annuals, then water. Be mindful on unseasonably warm days this month with little rain, check to see of annuals need watering.


  • Remember the birds through spring.  Actually, I tend to my bird friends year ‘round. This is something I do that gives me a great deal of pleasure. They add so much to the garden and to the gardeners’ enjoyment.  Be sure to provide a continual supply of seed, suet and water.  Did you know that a bird is 3 times more likely to die from lack of water in the winter than lack of food?  Break the ice, if need be.


1 Comment »

  1. tina said

    All good tips. Which reminds me, I still have cannas to cut and bulbs to plant….stay warm!

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