December gardening is an important time for maintaining your garden, as well as helping out our feathered friends and not forgetting adding a touch of Christmas too. But there is more than just Christmas cheer in the air; Jack Frost is now out and about on a regular basis, so if you haven’t already started to protect your plants from him, don’t panic as it’s not too late just yet. If you can’t justify spending precious money on plant protection especially at this time of year then use materials that you already have at home. Old bed sheets, towels and even old clothes could be used as a suitable cover for your more vulnerable plants.
Essential Gardening Checklist for December
- Remove rotting fruit
- General maintenance
- Holding off on the holly
- Choosing a Christmas Tree
- Indoor gardening
- Feed the birds
Remove rotting fruit
Remove mummified fruit from plants such as apple trees, removing dead, diseased or crossing branches at the same time. Make sure these aren’t accidently added to your compost heap as there is a risk of spreading infection. To prevent insect infestation and damage to your fruit trees try Growing Success Winter Tree Wash as it will help to control most insects and eradicate both the bug and egg.
General December Gardening maintenance
Winter storms are a regular occurrence at this time of year, so ensure you remove any trees or bushes and repair fences which have been damaged or blown down by strong winds.
Prevent slips, trips and falls by keeping paths and driveways clear from leaves and ice, or snow if we get any.
Its a good idea to insulate outside taps in order to prevent leaks.
Its also worth doing some winter digging in beds, borders and plots if the ground is frost-free. Any large clumps of soil left will break down further when frosts arrive. We would advise that you rake any fallen leaves in beds and borders that have accumulated. As this could be harboring slugs and other pests.
December is also a good time to prune any climbing roses, from now up to February. Its also worth hard pruning any shrubs and hedges while they are dormant and you can see where you need to prune.
TOP TIP – Dig Gro-Sure Farmyard Manure into bare soil to improve nutrient levels.
Holding off on the Holly
If you have put the effort in to growing your own holly, it would be disappointing to find all the berries had been demolished by birds or other garden visitors. Protect the berries by covering the holly with some netting until you are ready to cut the branches for your Christmas decorations.
Choosing a Christmas Tree
Read our article on How to Choose the Perfect Christmas Tree to find out about the various types available.
If you have purchased a cut tree, ensure you take the tree out of its netting as soon as you get home to prevent any mold or fungus growing in the damp branches. Then pop it in a bucket of water until you are ready to bring it indoors.
Cut approximately 2.5cm off the trunk of the tree using a saw so that the base of the tree is fresh. This means it will take up more water and remain fresher for longer. Shake the tree outside to remove any loose foliage and insects and bang the bottom of the tree to remove any dead needles.
On locating a space for your tree we recommend you keep it away from any heat source such as radiators, or turn it down extremely low. As the heat will dry the tree out and it will loose its needles allot faster. Once you have chosen the perfect spot for your tree, stand it in a sturdy tree stand and secure in place. Add plenty of water, every day for the first week or so to ensure it remains hydrated. As the weeks go on it will take less water so keep an eye on it every other day. Ensure there is always 500ml of water at the base. Trees can drink on average 1-2 litres per day.
Typically trees that have been container grown will last the longest. If you are lucky and have maintained your container grown tree then you should be able to plant it in your garden when the Christmas period has passed.
After Christmas we recommend you recycle your Christmas tree, please read our article here.
For many of us, a Poinsettia is the real plant of Christmas, with the attractive festive cherry red colouring. The plant tends to prefer a well-lit location with lots of warmth. Be sure to keep the soil moist but not saturated, and remember to punch holes in the decorative pot to enable drainage. As it’s not a good idea to let the Poinsettia sit in water, try Westland’s Houseplant Droplet Feeder as a convenient, ready to use feed which lasts for 4 weeks – seeing you through the festive season.
Also, if the weather is exceptionally cold then it would be worth considering moving some of your threatened outdoor plants indoors until the temperature rises again.
Feed the birds
When we are considering buying ourselves a little Christmas treat, we should really think of our flying visitors now too, especially if we have been feeding them for some time. Birds become reliant on the constant supply from your garden, and come to expect and trust it as a reliable source. If we do not continue to feed the birds, then it will have consequential effects for them.
TOP TIP – Peckish Winter Warmer is a great option for garden birds as it contains seeds that have 20% of the oils and fats essential for winter energy.