December Garden Planner

by Scott Duncan

Here's Scott Duncan with - yes - the garden planner for December when gardening goes indoors.

  • In December the Delmarva garden season is effectively on hiatus. There are only a few chores left to be done outside like protecting strawberry plants with hay or a floating cover to help promote earlier fruit in the spring.

  • Empty and turn over bird baths, or store them inside, to prevent freezing and cracking during prolonged subzero temperatures.

  • If you have not already set out bird feeders do so now. To attract song birds use thistle or striped sunflower seeds which are harder for black birds, sparrows, and starlings to open. Read the ingredients on seed bags so you can avoid mixes with filler seeds like golden or red millet, and cracked corn which the larger flocking birds like and others do not. These can also spoil when left uneaten.

  • Otherwise our attention turns inside to container plants and holiday decorations. Keep house plants, especially holiday favorites like poinsettias, away from extreme temperatures caused by heaters or cold drafts.

  • Begin amaryllis bulbs indoors at the beginning of the month for holiday blossoms.

  • If you are going to buy a live "ball" Christmas tree, prepare the ground for planting before it freezes hard. Cover the hole with boards to prevent accidents. After the holidays move the tree to a garage or covered porch for a few days before planting. Click here for the Maryland Cooperative Extension's recommendations (in PDF) on how to care for and plant a live holiday tree.

  • If you buy a cut tree, after the holidays, remove all decorations and look for a tree recycling program in your community. Some places will grind your tree and use it for mulch. At some of our coastal beaches trees are accepted at official drop off spots and are used in sand dune stabilization projects.