December To Do List

Yellow snapdragon (c) Linda Lehmusvirta

Plant: ornamental & wildlife

  • Hardy perennials, shrubs
  • Trees
  • Roses (best time!)
  • Winter annuals, including calendula, snapdragon, pansy, viola, dusty miller, ornamental kale and cabbage, alyssum, stock, cyclamen, dusty miller, flowering kale and cabbage
  • Avoid planting cold tender plants like Pride of Barbardos, Esperanza, lantana, plumbago

Plant: herbs

  • Perennials thyme, oregano
  • Avoid planting rosemary
  • Cilantro transplants, parsley, dill, fennel , chervil, summer savory, borage, rue, chives
  • Be prepared to cover in case of deep freeze

Plant: food crops


  • Prune freeze damaged plants or not? Best to leave seeds on plants for birds and protect root system. If picky relatives coming, okay to prune
  • Avoid pruning shrubs right now unless you see damage
  • Do not prune oak trees unless you have damage: paint wound immediately
  • Okay to prune trees other than red oaks and live oaks


  • Shrubs, roses, trees, evergreen spring-blooming perennials while dormant
  • Asters and other fall-bloomers which are dormant


  • Select spots where you want fruit trees, grapes, or berries to plant in January; for now, prep with compost
  • Mulch cold tender plants like gingers, Esperanza and semi-tropicals
  • Keep that row cover ready! Do not protect plants with plastic!


  • Pluck out early weeds.

Other tasks

  • Rake leaves into beds to mulch over winter and return nutrients to the soil
  • Mow leaves on grass (if not raking to beds or compost) to break them down
  • Collect leaves from neighbors to add to compost pile!
  • Deeply water new plants; keep new seedlings moist but not drenched

Tips for all 12 months