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December Gardening Tasks

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By the Extension Master Gardener Volunteers


  • Use wood ashes on your vegetable garden, bulb beds, and lightly on your lawns if soil pH is below 6.0. The maximum amount to incorporate per year is 20 gallons/1000 ft2.
  • Fertilize only actively-growing house plants as needed. Houseplants
  • If the weather is mild, fertilize pansies, snapdragons, and other winter-blooming outdoor flowers.


  • After Christmas, plant live Christmas trees in the landscape. Keep live trees indoors for no more than 14 days.
  • Plant bare-root trees. Planting trees and shrubs


  • Prune ornamental shrubs and berry-producing plants to make holiday arrangements and decorations. Don’t prune edible berry plants at this time. Pruning woody ornamentals
  • Remove “weed” or undesirable trees from your landscape.


  • Take leaf cuttings of your favorite house plants including African violets and begonia.
  • Divide Boston fern and re-pot.
  • Hardwood cuttings of your landscape plants including forsythia, flowering quince, weigela, holly, and hydrangea can be taken this month. Propagation from cuttings

Lawn Care

  • Keep tree leaves from collecting on your lawn; use a leaf blower on newly seeded lawns. Mulch the leaves and put them on or incorporate them into the garden.

Miscellaneous To Do

  • Put pine needles, wheat straw or floating row covers over your strawberry plants.
  • Put a floating row cover or straw around edibles still in the garden.
  • Continue to harvest leeks and kale.
  • Cut back asparagus fronds.
  • Apply broadleaf herbicide to control annual winter weeds if needed.
  • Keep your living Christmas tree outside until you are ready to decorate. White pine is a type of living tree that will do well in much of North Carolina.
  • Greenery will last longer if sprayed with an antitranspirant.
  • Keep your cut Christmas tree in water throughout the holiday season.
  • Remove the branches from your cut Christmas tree and lay them atop perennial beds for extra protection from the weather.
  • Make a list of needed repairs on garden tools and equipment. Repair or have them repaired after the holidays.
  • Shop around for garden products as gifts for your favorite gardener.
  • Order fruit trees and grapevines for February and March planting.

Plants with colorful berries in December: Witch Hazel, Washington Hawthorn, Dogwood Trees, American Beautyberry, Chinese Holly, Foster Holly, Nellie R. Stevens Holly, Nandina, Pyracantha

Blooming house plants in December: Amaryllis, Cyclamen, Poinsettia