Skimmia PLANT OF THE MONTH Skimmia Evergreen shrub providing winter colour. Skimmia are compact evergreen shrubs, grown for their foliage, flowers and red fruits. find out more FIND OUT MORE

December garden advice and maintenance

december-this-month-gardening-advice

General gardening

  • Check that greenhouse heaters are working OK
  • Prevent ponds and stand pipes from freezing
  • Prune open-grown apples and pears (but not those trained against walls)
  • Harvest leeks, parsnips, winter cabbage, sprouts and remaining root crops
  • Trees and shrubs can still be planted and transplanted
  • Reduce watering of houseplants
  • Continue to tidy beds and borders, then mulch with compost, well-rotted manure or bark and apply a slow release fertiliser such as bonemeal.
  • Cut back established rose bushes to stop them from snapping in the cold and windy conditions
  • Move delicate pots in greenhouses or wrap in bubble wrap to prevent from freezing
  • Mow if necessary – but only if the grass isn’t wet or frozen, and keep the blades set high

In the greenhouse

  • Clear greenhouse gutters of autumn leaves
  • Line the inside of the greenhouse with bubble-wrap to keep plants warmer.
  • Do not over water your plants, only water when the compost is dry
  • Check plants regularly for pests and disease i.e. moulds and fungus.
  • Ventilate only on warm days

Wildlife gardening

  • Hang bird feeders
  • Fill the birdbath and keep it clean to prevent the risk of disease and keep it free of ice
  • Leave some berries on plants such as holly – they are food for wildlife
  • Leave perennials un-cut for as long as possible – they provide food and shelter
  • Incorporate a few native trees and shrubs into new, more exotic plantings
  • Build a compost heap
  • Feed hedgehogs with proprietary feeds, or with tinned cat or dog food (not bread and milk and not chicken flavour food)
  • Leave tidying borders and shrubs until late Winter or early Spring to provide shelter for insects through the cold weather.