December Garden Calendar for the Midwest

The weather is definitely turning colder, and there is still a few little reminders of small tasks for your lawn, trees and shrubs, flowers, vegetables and fruits, before the ground completely freezes and the snow sets in. There are still a few December tips on taking care of your houseplants as well.

"December Garden Calendar for the Midwest"

December Garden Calendar


  • Rake fallen leaves from the lawn to prevent suffocation.
  • Keep limbs and other debris picked up from the lawn.
  • Negotiate lawn service contract for next year.
  • Store fertilizers in a dry location, out of reach of children and pets.
  • Store pesticides in a cool, not freezing dry location out of reach of children and pets.
  • Winterize power equipment by changing oil, draining gas and lubricating all moving parts.


  • Evaluate the garden and make notes to assist in planning.
  • Mulch roses, only those that are grafted by mounding soil 6 to 8 inches deep over the plants.
  • Roses grown on their own roots such as the easy care Knock Out roses need no winter mulching.
  • Cut tall hybrid tea roses back to 18 to 24 inches to reduce wind whipping and plant damage.
  • Easy care or shrub roses need no winter pruning.
  • Mulch perennial beds witha 2 to 4 inch layer of straw, shredded leaves or other lightweight material.
  • Remove old stems and growth on perennials
  • Pull and discard dead annuals
  • Till garden soil and incorporate 2 to 4 inches of organic matter
  • Review new garden catalogs and make selections
  • Test the soil to help determine soil needs for the next growing season.
  • Continue to plant spring flowering bulbs, water and mulch.
  • Give plants or gift certificates as holiday gifts for gardening friends.


  • Keep heavy snowfall from limbs of trees and shrubs by lightly shaking.
  • Avoid shoveling snow onto trees and shrubs to prevent breakage and prolonged snow cover.
  • Protect the trunks of young trees and branches of shrubs from rabbit damage.
  • Living Christmas trees are special, leave in the home no longer than one week.
  • Prune damaged branches throughout the winter months.
  • Water newly planted trees and shrubs in winter to prevent dry soil conditions.
  • Mulch roots of tender shrubs such as Azaleas and Rhododendrons.
  • Prune branches of junipers, pines, hollies,and other plants to use as holiday decorations.


  • Till soil and incorporate organic matter such as compost or manure.
  • Take a soil test and make needed recommended improvements.
  • Store leftover seeds in a cool, dry location such as a sealed jar in the refrigerator.
  • Turn compost pile to encourage winter breakdown.
  • Check vegetables in storage for spoilage.
  • Mulch strawberries for winter protection.
  • Protect trunks of fruit trees from rabbit damge with tree wraps.
  • Pick up fallen fruit and discard to reduce disease and insect problems.
  • Clean and oil garden hand tools for winter
  • Repair equipment now to avoid spring rush
  • Start planning for next year by making notes and preparing orders.


  • Enjoy poinsettias longer by placing them in brigh light, keeping them away from hot and cold drafts, and watering evenly so the soil does not dry out.
  • Purchase holiday plants such as cactus and amaryllis for a festive touch.
  • Watch plants for signs of insect infestations and treat as needed
  • Wash plants occasionally to remove dust layers that develop.
  • Rotate plants in the light to produce a balanced plant.
  • Water as needed to keep soil moist and avoid standing water in plant trays.
  • Reduce or quit fertilizing during the winter.
  • Give plants as holiday gifts.
  • To avoid leaf damage, watch for hot or cold drafts.

*Information gathered from Johnson County K-State Research and Extension. They offer free information fact sheets, and can be visited at You will find many helpful articles at for all your yard and gardening needs.

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