Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Audio Play Icon Headphones Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
Southeast Regional Reports

Southeast: December Garden To-Do List

Now is a perfect time to prune your Japanese maples. Photo: Michelle Gervais

December begins the Persephone period that continues into January—a time of rest from growth due to our shortest days. Even evergreens rest, but the garden never truly sleeps. Camellias (Camellia spp. and cvs., Zones 6–10) carry the bloom torch through the winter holidays. This month offers us a break if needed or the chance to catch up on clearing out, cleaning up, composting, mulching, and edging.

This is tree time. December is perfect for planting bareroot or ball-and-burlap trees, pruning Japanese maples (Acer palmatum, Zones 6–8), or hiring an arborist for canopy tree pruning or removal if necessary. If you’ve got wooded areas, you can now see and have space to work as you clear underbrush and dig out crowded saplings or tree seedlings.

Send a little package of soil to your extension service (be sure to follow their instructions) if you’re seeing foliar issues in particular areas of your garden or are just curious about the makeup of your soil. Testing may be free or lower in cost this time of year. You’ll get the results in enough time to add amendments for next season’s growth if called for.

Cut greenery and berries for indoor decoration. Enjoy the fruits of your labors! And if you are gifted an amaryllis (Hippeastrum spp. and cvs., Zones 8–10) for the holidays, don’t toss it out after bloom. Save it and plant it out in April. Many are hardy in Zones 8 and 9.

Amaryllis can be planted in the ground in April. Photo: Paula Gross

—Paula Gross is the former assistant director of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Botanical Gardens.

View Comments


Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest

Magazine Cover

Take your passion for plants to the next level

Subscribe today and save up to 44%

"As a recently identified gardening nut I have tried all the magazines and this one is head and shoulders above the pack."


View All

We hope you’ve enjoyed your free articles. To keep reading, become a member today.

Get complete site access to decades of expert advice, regional content, and more, plus the print magazine.

Start your FREE trial