17 Things To Plant In December To Keep Your Garden Flourishing

Winter garden
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Written by Priyanka Paul

Published: December 1, 2023

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Winter is generally considered a doleful time for gardeners. Everything starts to look bleak and barren as the exuberant colors of the summer garden fade away. For many gardeners, the onset of winter means it’s ‘time to tuck the garden into bed for a long winter’s night’. But this concept of ‘putting the garden to sleep for the winter’ is outdated as there are plenty of things you can plant in December.

While it is true that freeze-proof plants that love the winter chill aren’t as numerous as those that like the sun, there are still lots of lively foliage, fruits, vegetables, and flowers that can be a constant source of beauty through the winter. Morgan Cabana who runs a flower farm in Buffalo, New York tells A-Z Animals that her favorites to plant in December are milkweed and the lisianthus.“I’ve also had success planting tulip bulbs in December before the ground freezes”, she says. Here are some other things to plant in the month of December to keep your garden flourishing.

Violas

Pansy / Viola

Violas, known for their vibrant colors and sweet scents have always been a popular choice among gardeners.

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One of the many striking plants to consider for winter color are violas. These plants, though they may look delicate and dainty are incredibly tough and tolerant of cold winter weather. Depending on where you live, you can either plant them in landscape beds or containers. They are hardy in zones 6 to 10 and will give you gorgeous blooms that will last you right through spring and beyond.

Winter Blooming Daffodils

White narcissus Paperwhite Ziva (Narcissus poeticus) in garden

What better way to bring cheer to winter dreariness than with a charming bloom of Daffodils!

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Daffodils are essential spring flowers that can be easily forced into bloom in the winter. The winter-flowering daffodil species, otherwise known as ‘Paperwhite narcissus’ are surprisingly easy to grow and make for perfect December flowers. Either leave the potted bulbs outside with a thick layer of soil to cover and protect them, or stand them in a cool, dark, frost-free place indoors.

Apart from the paperwhites, the N.cantabricus, a relative of the hoop petticoat daffodils is also hardy enough to bloom in this season.

Amaryllis

Beautiful red amaryllis flowers on table in room

Amaryllis plants, with their huge, striking, trumpet-shaped blooms are perfect for bringing in some winter cheer.

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The flowering amaryllis called ‘Hippeastrums’ are undemanding plants that are revered for their spectacular blooms. Bold colors are their hallmark with flower colors ranging from dramatic shades of crimson, and orange scarlet to neon pink. These “Dutch hybrids” also come in subtle colors of blush light pink and pure white.

Keep them in a pot indoors during the winter, If you plant them early in December, you should have a bulb and a flower bud by New Year’s Eve.

Snowdrops

Snowdrop or common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) flowers.Snowdrops after the snow has melted. In the forest in the wild in spring snowdrops bloom.

Snowdrops or the

Galanthus nivalis

are unfazed by snow coverings or deep freezes.

©Olesya Myzzz/Shutterstock.com

The common snowdrop, a small bulbous perennial has always been widely popular across the country. These slender plants with long, delicate bell-shaped flowers are resolute even in bitter cold and frost and make a fine addition to any winter garden.

Plant these bulbs ‘in the green’ if you want to plant them as late as December or you can grow them indoors in containers. Set them in light to moderate shade and water periodically, when rainfall doesn’t do the job for you.

Begonia

Red, orange rieger begonia flowers pattern background and begonia (semperflorens) leaf in garden landscape. Begonia wax flower with leaves for garden design.

Begonias are a favorite in the winter garden because they are hardy, beautiful, and easy-to-care-for plants.

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For potfuls of color in the winter, Begonias are the perfect pick. This flamboyant showstopper comes in a great variety of colors and combinations.

Where winters are mild and frosts are rare, these plants that are commonly used as annuals can be left outside on their own. In other regions, they can grow as tender perennials, lasting well as long as they are comfortably positioned indoors with bright, indirect sunlight.

Lettuce

For some crisp salad veg, try growing frost-tolerant varieties of lettuce in the cold month of December.

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Salad leaves such as lettuce, watercress, kale, arugula, and romaine are perfect vegetables for container gardening in the winter. Sow the seeds thinly in a container or tray of potting soil and place them on a window sill which radiates warm light. Your leafy greens will be ready to harvest in just a few weeks after planting. If you want to plant lettuce outdoors, make sure you keep them in a hoop house or cold frame.

Salad greens like the lettuce crop can withstand light frost and can be used as soon as the seedlings are 5 to 6 inches tall. For continuous harvests of lettuce, sow small batches every few weeks.

Spring Onions

Spring onions are great vegetables for container gardening and require very little space and effort.

©iStock.com/Zoya2222

Spring onions or scallions are another excellent winter crop to grow in December. This vegetable grows best in containers at home. Sow them close if you want the leaves for their sharp flavor or space your seeds to make small bulbs. You should have a regular supply of scallions over the next few weeks.

Anemones

De Caen anemones Hollandia

With their dramatic black center, anemone flowers are absolute eye-catchers.

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These graceful perennials are perfect for plants for December, although, in colder northern climates, they may not be able to survive the winter. Anemones are usually slow to establish, but once they have settled in, they spread quickly and widely.

Milkweed

milkweed follicles

The explosion of milkweed seed pods is a beautiful sight to behold!

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Many species of garden-friendly Milkweed are great for growing in December. According to Morgan Cabana, owner of the Spruce Farm, “milkweed seeds need the cold stratification process of winter to germinate”. When you invite milkweed into your garden, you can expect the iconic monarch butterflies to follow.

Lisianthus

lisianthus flowers in garden

Lisianthus are perennial favorites that come in a stunning array of colors.

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Lisianthus, commonly known as the prairie gentian, is a flowering plant that many gardeners and florists have fallen in love with, and it is easy to see why. The annual flower blooms of the lisianthus plant are absolutely showy and gorgeous.

Morgan Cabana of the Spruce Farm generally starts lisianthus indoors in December. Growing lisianthus can be tricky though. “The plant has a very long germination period and is super finicky”, she says. If you love a challenge and want to try growing the lisianthus from seed this December, plant them early to give it plenty of time to put on growth.

Tulips

Spring tulips floral tulip bunch

Tulips with their long green stems are perfect for creating a striking splash of color in the winter.

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Although typically planted in the fall, it is not uncommon to find tulip bulbs sprouting even in the winter (as long as the temperatures are not too extreme). Tulip bulbs are built to survive the cold and the snow.

If you want to plant tulip bulbs in December, clear away any snow and place them on the top of the soil. If you are planting them in the peak stage of winter, you also want to add a thick layer of mulch or compost. Alternatively, you can keep them in pots in a cool, unheated room.

Carrots and Radishes

fresh carrots bunch on rustic wooden background

Carrots and radishes are hearty winter crops that you can grow in December.

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Winter vegetables such as carrots and radishes are other favorites for container gardening and can be sown from late winter until mid-autumn.

Most root crops such as carrots and radishes generally require greater depth than you can provide indoors. However, round or globe varieties of the carrot and radish do not root very deeply and are container-friendly. Depending on the variety, your winter crop should be ready for harvest within 60-80 days after sowing the seeds.

Indoor Herbs

Wooden pallet creative idea for making stylish garden hanging planter for herbs or vegetables. Wall mounted planter

Herbs are easy to plant and fantastic to have on hand and you can grow them at any time of the year.

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Herbs are both useful and attractive and there are several types you can grow in December. Cilantro, parsley, chives, fennel, and thyme are some of the herbs that can thrive in cool weather. Stand several pots of your favorites on a sunny windowsill and you will always have enough for your culinary dishes,

Poinsettias

Transplanting Poinsettia Christmas Flowers into red and green pots, man transplanting flowers, home decoration at Christmas,Merry Christmas Concept

The stately foliage of poinsettias will instantly put you in the holiday spirit!

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No list of winter’s most colorful plants can ever be complete without Poinsettias. Colorful bracts of poinsettias are just the kind of eye-catching display you need on gray winter days. Most modern poinsettias can thrive indoors in containers during the winter. You want to make sure you don’t plant them in very deep containers though as they need light and air to reach all their stems and leaves.

Dwarf Beans

Phaseolus vulgaris - a bush of Dwarf Beans with yellow pods. Plant is called French Bean or Green Bean - producing healthy and delicious pods.

Dwarf beans are not just fun to grow, they are also flavorsome and juicy.

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Dwarf French beans are another outstanding winter crop to grow in December. They do well indoors and can be sown from late winter onwards. If you enjoy container gardening, the dwarf fava beans and dwarf runner beans are good crops to consider too. Make sure you pick the pods while they are still young, tender, and juicy.

Winter Berries

Winterberry Holly, Photography, Autumn, Autumn Leaf Color, Backgrounds

Colorful bunches of winter berries will never fail to raise your spirits!

©iStock.com/Sanghwan Kim

Berry shrubs are great plants to consider for some winter color. Beautyberry, Wax myrtle, Yaupon holly, and Coral honeysuckle are some of the berry plants that can persist through the winter. Planting winter berries will not only enhance your landscape, it will also ensure that you have plenty of material on hand for your holiday decor and wreaths.

Calamondin Orange

orange bonsai tree on blue background

The cheerful calamondin orange plant is pretty and petite.

©lucas nightingale/Shutterstock.com

The vibrant orange-yellow calamondin orange plant is hardy to 20 degrees F and will happily grow indoors in December. Just make sure you give the plant good winter light, a citrus fertilizer, and soft water to keep it in good health.

The plant produces year-round fruit and white fragrant blossoms.


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About the Author

Priyanka Paul is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on plants, geography, and insects. Priyanka has been working as a writer for over 5 years and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. A resident of Buffalo, New York, Priyanka enjoys gardening, hiking, and spending time observing nature’s little creatures.

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