December Garden Tasks
in the Piedmont
Perennials, Annuals & Bulbs
- Bare-root season begins late this month
- Plant cane berries, grapes and roots of perennials, such as artichoke, asparagus, rhubarb, astilbe and peony, now.
- Continue fall cleanup
- Cut back chrysanthemum to about 6 inches
- Remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials
- Clean-up flower and vegetable beds
- Compost or recycle at the curb, to curtail future plant diseases and insect damage.
- Plant spring flowering bulbs, trees and shrubs
- Continue to monitor water levels, especially for newly planted evergreen trees and shrubs
Trees, Shrubs & Groundcovers
- Take hardwood cuttings from deciduous trees and shrubs
- Dip cut stems in rooting hormone powder
- Plant in equal parts sand and vermiculite
- Keep moist
- Mulch azaleas, rhododendron, camellia and laurel after the ground freezes
- They prefer acidic materials, oak leaves and pine needles
- Any mixed, dry leaves will do if oak and pine are not available.
- Keep lawns free of debris, especially if recently seeded
- Start pruning evergreen / non-flowering shrubs. Do not prune summer-flowering shrubs until February or March. Do not prune spring-flowering shrubs until after they bloom.
- Protect tender sub-tropical trees and shrubs from frost
- Cover plants in late afternoon with cloth, burlap or large cardboard boxes
- Prop up cover with stakes so it doesn't touch foliage
- Potted plants you receive during the holiday season
- They're not meant to be kept as permanent house plants (they were likely raised in a greenhouse)
- Treat them like long-lasting cut flowers -- enjoy them as long as possible, but discard when they become unattractive
- Flowering poinsettia
- Keep it moist and in full sunlight in a cool area
- Protect it from being chilled or subjected to drafts
- Christmas cactus
- If buds drop and stems shrivel, look for root injury caused by dry soil.
- Live and cut Christmas trees
- They need water while they are inside
- Keep live trees indoors for a minimum of time to keep them healthy.
- Fall planted greens, such as lettuce, mesclun mix, kale, mustard, arugula, mache, and spinach, love the cooler temperatures and will produce this fall, throughout the winter, and even into the spring.
- Get a hop on your spring veggie bed planning. Seed catalogs begin arriving soon.
A good time to catch-up and plan for next year
- These rainy or snowy days are a good time to observe the bones of your garden and begin to plan for next year.
- Try coating your snow shovel with a non-stick cooking spray; the snow slides right off; recoat as needed.
- You still have time to make herb vinegars from chives, shallot, garlic or any herbs on your windowsill
- Use approximately 4 ounces fresh herbs to 1 quart wine vinegar
- Allow the herbs to infuse for at least 2 weeks.
Mecklenburg Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteers