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December Gardening Tips

David Hillock, Consumer Horticulturist

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service

Division Of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

  • Flowers

    Apply winter mulch to protect rose bush bud unions and other perennials. Wait until after several early freezes or you will give insects a good place to winter.


    Poinsettias must have at least six hours of bright, indirect light daily. Keep plants away from drafts. (HLA-6413)


    Watch for and control pests on indoor houseplants. (HLA-6411)


    Make sure indoor plants are receiving enough light or set up an indoor fluorescent plant light.

  • Fruits and Nuts

    Cover strawberry plants with a mulch about 3 to 4 inches thick if plants are prone to winter injury. (HLA-6214)


    Wait to prune fruit trees until late February or March. (HLA-6228)

  • Lawn and Turf

    Remove leaves from cool-season grasses or mow with a mulching mower. ( HLA-6420 Fact Sheet and print version)


    Continue mowing cool-season lawns on a regular basis. ( HLA-6420)


    Continue to control broadleaf weeds in well-established warm- or cool-season lawns with a post-emergent broadleaf weed killer.

  • Trees and Shrubs

    Select a freshly cut Christmas tree. Make a new cut prior to placing in tree stand. Add water daily.


    Live Christmas trees are a wise investment, as they become permanent additions to the landscape after the holidays.


    Light prunings of evergreens can be used for holiday decorations. Be careful with sap that can mar surfaces.

  • General

    Keep all plants watered during dry conditions even though some may be dormant. Irrigate all plantings at least 24 hours before hard-freezing weather if soil is dry. (HLA-6404)


    Order gardening supplies for next season.

    Now is a great time to design and make structural improvements in your garden and landscape.


    Send for mail-order catalogs if you are not already on their mailing lists.


    Christmas gift ideas for the gardener might include tools, garden books, magazine subscriptions or membership to The Botanic Garden at OSU (


    Clean and fill bird feeders.


    Till garden plots without a cover crop to further expose garden pests to harsh winter conditions.


    Visit your county extension office to obtain gardening fact sheets for the new gardening season.


    Join a horticulture, plant or urban forestry society and support community “greening” or “beautification” projects.


    Review your garden records so you can correct past mistakes. Purchase a new gardening journal or calendar to keep next year’s gardening records.

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