Top Jobs for December

1. Check that tree ties are still in place to avoid wind damage.

2. Remember garden hygiene – remove fallen leaves and add them to the compost heap - do not add diseased leaves to the compost heap.

3. Prune acers, birches and vines before January to avoid bleeding.

4. Deciduous trees and shrubs can still be planted and transplanted.

5. Reduce watering of houseplants.

6. Think about landscaping work that can be done now to make life easier next year.

7. Now is the time to catch up on the boring repair and maintenance tasks that have been avoided all year!



• Continue to cut back faded herbaceous perennials.

• Place bark chip mulch around the base of your Christmas rose to stop mud splashing on the blooms.

• Root cuttings can be taken from now on and Alpines can be sown from seed this month (They need a period of cold weather to break the seed dormancy).

• Bring tender plants into the greenhouse or your conservatory if not done so already. Even in mild areas the weather usually gets much harder after December.



• There is still time to plant new fruit bushes if the soil is not frozen.

• Make sure Apples and Pears are pruned by the end of the month.  



• Buy seeds now to ensure full availability.

• Net winter vegetables to keep pigeons away



• Avoid walking on lawns in frosty weather.

• If puddles stay on the lawn spike with a garden fork or an aerator to aid drainage and prevent disease.

• Think about having lawn mowers and strimmers serviced.  


Greenhouse, Sheds and Houseplants

• Clear greenhouse gutters of autumn leaves.

• Wash greenhouse glass inside and outside to allow as much light in as possible.

• Do not water plants too much, water when compost is dry.

• Check plants regularly for pests and disease i.e., moulds and fungus.

• Ventilate on warm days • Bring back amaryllis (Hippeastrum ) into active growth with regular watering and feeding for flowers in the new year.

• House plants won't need so much water now that the days are shortening.

• Cacti need very little water or feeding over the winter just keep them barely moist until the spring.

• Cyclamen plants appreciate a cool, light room. Water into the saucer not the pot to avoid wetting the leaves which can easily result in fungal infections.

• Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata and S. x buckleyi) may fail to give flower buds if the temperature is too high (above 18°C/65°F). Try moving the cactus into cooler space and away from artificial night lighting. • Hyacinths like a cool, bright space - if it's too warm you will have more leaves than flowers.

• Water azaleas with rainwater not tap water – water regularly and keep in a cool room.

• Poinsettias are susceptible to the cold – avoid buying them from outdoor stalls on cold days and keep them in a warm, draught free room.

• Line the inside of the greenhouse with bubblewrap to keep plants warmer.

• Clear leaves and twigs from greenhouse and shed gutters.  


Trees, Shrubs, Climbers and Hedges

• Pruning and renovation of many deciduous trees, shrubs as well as hedges can be carried out from now and throughout the winter. It is easier to see what you are doing when the leaves have fallen off!

• Don't prune evergreens until the spring.

• Check tree ties and stakes to ensure that they are still effective. Wall shrubs and climbers should be tied onto their supports to protect them from damage by the wind.

• Acers and Betula should be pruned before the end of the year to avoid sap bleeding from the cuts.

• You can take hardwood cuttings from ornamental shrubs such as Berberis, Buddleja and Forsythia.

• Spray a winter wash on roses and the surrounding soil to keep black spot under control.

• You can continue to plant bare-root deciduous hedging plants and trees, plant roses, move established deciduous trees and shrubs.  



 • Net your pond to stop herons stealing your fish.

• Regularly remove fallen weeds from ponds.

• If you do not have a pond heater remove ice from your pond by holding a saucepan of hot water on the surface until it melts through. Do not crack the ice, as this could harm the fish.


Soils, mulching and weed control

• Tidy-up fallen leaves from borders if you have not already done so and add them to the compost heap. Leaf-mould can be used as a soil improver.

• Clear weeds from your flower beds.

• Mulch can be added in the Spring. You may want to order this now.

• If you have to walk on wet soils lay a long plank of wood or similar to spread your weight and avoid compacting the soil.


Plants which are at their best in December

Ilex aquifolium and varieties (Hollies)

Prunus autumnalis 'Rosea' (Autumn Cherry)

Mahonia Pernettya varieties

Erica darleyensis (Heath)

Indoor Cyclamen


Non-hardy Azaleas (House plant Azaleas)


TOP TIP: Raise pots onto 'pot feet' or bricks so that they don't spend the winter sitting in wet puddles!


TOP TIP: Protect pots and taps from frost by wrapping insulation around them. Bubble wrap is ideal and probably in plentiful supply if you are ordering Christmas presents over the internet!