In the Garden | December
Monthly guide for gardening tasks, forecasts, and more.

NEW: This article has been updated to include additional to-do items for the fall garden, including Farmers' Almanac weather forecasts and moon phases, December 2015.

The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools.--Henry Beston
A typically-Texas kind of December begins with days of highs approaching 80 degrees, but we know what's just around the bend. This season, there have been those highs in the 80s and lows in the 40s--some even in the same day! December demands a Texan's patience. And his entire wardrobe.

Happily, December's garden is gracious; it knows our days are busy with holiday preparations and doesn't require much attention. A few plantings for us--most notably lettuce, which loves the cooler weather, and a little low-effort maintenance allows for time curled up with a cup of tea, and our favorite seed catalogs, with dreams of flourishing spring.


Fertilize: Feed winter bloomers such as alyssum, dianthus and especially pansies every 4-6 weeks.

Water: Water everything well before a freeze to protect against cold injury, but avoid over-watering.

Transplant: Transplant bare root and container grown roses, shrubs, trees, ground covers and vines so they get established before warm weather arrives next summer.

Prepare Soil: Prepare dormant beds for spring planting: clean out dead and spent plants, compost to enrich the organic content of the soil. Send in soil samples (forms available at the Extension Office). Check winter mulch and replenish if needed. Stockpile leaves for mulching and composting throughout spring and summer.

Lawn Care: Run mower and trimmer engines dry of gasoline, drain and change oil. Take them to the repair shop now to avoid the spring rush. Clean and oil ALL tools before storing for winter.

Diseases/Pests to Look for: Watch for scale, mealy bugs and spider mites on houseplants. Root rot fungus thrives on over-watered houseplants.


16th-17th Extra good for cucumbers, peas, cantaloupes, and other vine crops. Plant peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes, and other above-ground crops in southern Florida, California, and Texas. 18th-19th A barren period. 20th-21st Fine for planting beans, peppers, cucumbers, melons, and other above-ground crops where climate is suitable. 22nd-24th Seeds planted now tend to rot in the ground. 25th-26th Start seedbeds and flower gardens. Good days for transplanting. Most favorable days for planting beets, onions, turnips, and other root crops where the climate allows. 27th-31st A barren period. Favorable for killing plant pests, cultivating, or taking a short vacation.


16th-19th. Colder weather moves in. 20th-23rd. Some rain, (over mountainous terrain) snow, followed by clearing. 24th-27th. Fair skies, then turning very unsettled. 28th-31st. Clearing weather moves in.

The Full Cold Moon; or the Full Long Nights Moon – December During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.

Forecasts for additional U.S. and Canada regions, can be found at the Farmers Almanac website.

Things To Plant In December

Flower Plants
Alyssum, butterfly weed, calendula, candytuft, cornflower, dianthus, daisy, liatris, nasturtium, ornamental cabbage and kale, phlox, snapdragon, stock.

Flower Seeds
Bluebonnet, calendula, candytuft, cornflower, feverfew, gaillardia, gayfeather, larkspur, nasturtium, sweet pea.

Agapanthus, allium, alstroemeria, amarcrinum, amaryllis (in container), crinum, hyacinth, liriope, monkey grass, muscari, star of bethlehem, rain lily, society garlic, spraxis, aztec lily (sprekelia), watsonia.

Lettuce, Radish, Spinach
Protect cool-season vegetables from hard freezes with row covers.

Bare root or container-grown pecans, fruit trees, grapes, berry bushes

Other Things To Do
  • Time to get the garden ready for the new growing season.
  • Clean, repair and replace garden tools.
  • Create a garden plan to help organize your chores and planting schedules.
  • As an alternative to the traditional Christmas tree, try a container tree or shrub (conically shaped) to be planted in your landscape later.
  • Order spring vegetable seeds now.


Territorial Seed
Seed Savers Exchange
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Stoke's Seeds


American Horticultural Society Master Gardeners
USDA The People's Garden
Dave's Garden: The Garden Watchdog
Kids Gardening

Gardening tasks courtesy of the Garden Guide for Austin and Vicinity, published by the Travis County Master Gardener Association, copyright 2000-2002, via The Central Texas Gardener.


  1. I can't tell you how much I love these posts! They are super-helpful as we adjust to gardening in a new place.

    1. Thanks, Lauren! I'm so glad they are helpful. I know I need all the tips and tricks I can possibly get in gardening, so next year, I'm planning on expanding to other areas of the country, too.

      Sure appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Happy Holidays!

  2. Great info! Seems like we have had a warm and dry "winter" so far. I'm planning on running to the garden center to purchase some frost cloth. It is suppose to get cold on Tuesday. My lettuce is doing great. Had I known that the snails were not going to eat it, I would have planted more. My brussels, collards and kale is another story. Those pesky cabbage loopers have turned my plants into swiss cheese. Do you know of any organic products for those green worms?

    PS Curling up with a cup of tea and reading seed catalogs is one my favorite things to do:)

  3. Sure miss you in the blogging world, sister. How are you?


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