December is arguably the quietest month in the garden. And with the Christmas prep in full swing, that’s no bad thing in my opinion!
Having said that, I do like to escape into the garden now and then this month; it’s a lovely way to take a breather from the fast pace that Christmas often demands. And there are still plenty of things to plant, which is perfect for helping us look forward to spring.
If you’d like to do some planting this month, here are some suggestions for what to plant in December to get you started.
Flowers to plant in December
Winter bedding plants
Bedding plants are a quick and easy way to give the garden an instant lift at this time of year. You don’t have to tackle the whole garden; go for areas that you can see from indoors, or plant up containers and position them somewhere that you walk past regularly, like the front door.
Pansies, violas, cyclamen, ivy and heather are all great plants for a winter display. Evergreen grasses are great for adding foliage, texture and height too. My posts on winter plants for pots and plants for winter hanging baskets have loads more plant inspiration. Garden centres, DIY stores and supermarkets usually have a good range on offer.
*Sweet peas can be sown from October to March. Planting them now gives you a better chance of having strong healthy plants when spring arrives. Sweet peas are great seeds for children to sow too; they’re a decent size, and not too fussy!
When your sweet pea seeds have germinated and the seedlings have established themselves, you can put them in a sheltered spot such as a cold frame or unheated greenhouse.
Bare root roses
If you’d like to add some roses to your garden, bare root plants are a cost-effective way to do it – and now’s the ideal time of year to get hold of them.
You can plant bare root roses from November to March, while they are in their dormant phase. Before you start, add plenty of organic matter, such as manure, to the area you’ll be planting. Your hole needs to be about a spade’s depth, and twice as wide as the roots.
Tease out the roots before planting, to encourage them to grow outwards and stabilise the plant. The base of the stem should be just below soil level. Once you’re happy with the position, backfill the hole with soil and firm the plant in well.
Bare root trees and hedges
Like roses, autumn and early winter is a good time to plant bare-root trees and hedges, as this is when they are in a dormant state. You can also plant pot-grown trees now.
There are so many varieties of tree that will bring interest to your garden. Add one and you’ll also be helping to improve air quality, and provide shelter and food for local wildlife. A visit to your local garden centre or a search online is a great place to start narrowing down your choice. Just make sure you keep in mind the conditions in your garden, it’s size, and the amount of space you’re willing to use.
Next year’s perennial plants
Fruit and vegetables to plant in December
If you’ve got a sunny windowsill, you can still grow *herbs indoors throughout winter. Choose varieties that you use regularly in your cooking and you’ll save yourself some money, while adding lots of flavour to your dishes. My post on growing a windowsill herb garden takes you through the process step-by-step.
If you can provide some plant protection, you can still grow winter salad this month. A greenhouse is ideal. You might also be able to get hold of plug plants from the garden centre.
Raspberries & blackberries
Like roses, *raspberry canes and blackberries can be planted as bare root plants any time from November to March. With raspberries, you can choose from summer-fruiting and autumn-fruiting varieties.
If you’ve got lots of space, a row of plants works well, but you can also grow them in containers. Bear in mind you will need to provide the plants with support; this is usually in the form of a post-and-wire fence for rows of plants, and a single post for container plants.
Rhubarb crowns should ideally be planted in autumn or spring, but if your soil isn’t frozen you can still plant them this month. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil, and plant with the crown just poking out above the soil.
A rhubarb plant should serve you well for up to ten years, but it won’t enjoy being moved, so choose your location carefully!
Blueberries are quite easy plants to grow, but they do need acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 or lower. The easiest way to make sure you provide this is to grow them in a container, and use ericaceous compost. *Blueberry plants will thrive best in full sun or light shade. Aim to water them using rainwater; tap water will gradually make the soil less acidic.
Bulbs to plant in December
Spring flowering bulbs
Ideally, *spring flowering bulbs should be planted in autumn, but if you haven’t quite got round to it you can still get them into the ground this month. Obviously if the soil is frozen you should wait until the weather warms up a bit! If you’re not sure how to do it, check out my post on how to plant bulbs.
If you have any spare bulbs, don’t waste them. Instead, plant them temporarily into pots of compost. This will allow them to grow, and you can use them to fill any gaps in your borders when spring arrives.
It’s also worth potting up a bulb lasagne, which is a container layered with bulbs that flower at different times. This is a brilliant way to get a long display of flowers for minimal effort.
Forced spring bulbs
While you’re planting your spring bulbs in the garden, you can also ‘force’ some of them to flower earlier than they would normally from this month. Forcing bulbs is basically speeding up the natural process of growth and flowering, and it’s a lovely way to enjoy blooms indoors in winter. *Amaryllis and *hyacinths are probably the most well-known bulbs that we force indoors, but you can do it with lots of other bulbs too. Check out my post on forcing spring flowering bulbs for full instructions.
*Lily bulbs flower in summer, and you can plant them now for blooms next year. If you’re planting them in the ground, choose a spot that enjoys full sun or partial shade, and add some grit to the soil if it’s heavy. You can also plant lilies in pots, which gives you the option to encourage early blooms by moving them into a greenhouse in spring.
This list of what to plant in December has ended up much longer than I thought it would! Will you be planting any of my suggestions this month?
If you’re hoping to tackle some garden maintenance this month, you might also like to check out my post on garden jobs for December.