In The Garden: December


December ... the month of contradiction.

While one of the most important months for vigorous, actively growing plants - it is also the month that most have time off and potentially go away and leave the garden vulnerable in a prime growing season.

The sooner that the garden has heavy watering and then is mulched the better - it will reduce time and worry later.

Potentially between now and Easter we have a long hot period to get our plants through.

This means in most parts of the garden, excellent growing conditions.


The great flush of spring and early summer flowering is just about at an end - meaning time to start dead heading and cutting back as needed.If this is done, and seedpods or capsules are prevented from forming, many plants will flower again and again.

Speaking of, some of the "top heavy" flowering plants may need some subtle staking to help protect from enexpected wind.

Remember not to drive  stakes in too close to the roots of the plant, especially if they are a bulb plant or you may cause damage and introduce disease.


Native and Exotic.
Young annuals will respond quickly if watered with extra weak liquid fertilisers.

Shrubs/ Shrub Garden

Unless you are in wet tropics deep watering is necessary and now is a good time to get this happening.
Plants to consider for a long lasting summer display are:

  • Acrolinium( Strawflower / Paper Daisy), Alyssum, Amaranthus, Antirrhinum(Snapdragon), Aquilegia (Buttercup Family - Columbines), Arctotis(Aurora Daisy, African Daisy )

  • Aster (and the aster family ), Balsam, Begonia, English Daisy( Bellis Perennis), Browallia, Calla(Zantedeschia), Campanula, Carnation, Chrysanthemum,

  • Cineraria, Coleus, Cosmos, Dahlia, Delphinium, Dianthus, Gazania, Geranium, Gerbera, Gypsophila(Baby's breath, Hibiscus, Hollyhock, Impatiens, Lobelia,

  • Lupin, Marigold (African & French), Myosotis( Forget Me Not), Nasturtium, Pansy, Penstemon, Petunia, Phlox, Oriental Poppy, Portulaca, Rudbeckia(Black Eyed Susan),

  • Salvia, Statice, Stock, Verbena, Vinca, Violet, Viola, Zinnia




(e) this is the last month to plant out and achieve best results

(p) there will be another chance next month to get it in the ground.

(b) this is the beginning of the season so in general we will have a bit of time.


Some of the most important vegetable to sow this month, especially if growing from seed, include those that will not fully mature until cooler months.

If sowing from seed vegetables like Brussel Sprouts and Leeks will be ready to plant out in 4 - 6 weeks - which is their optimum planting season.

Listed here the ones that are ideal for planting out into the garden "now":

  • Asparagus(e), Basil, Beetroot, Cape Gooseberry, Capsicum, Chilli, Chives, Choko, Climbing Beans(Pole/Runner), Cucumber,

  • Dwarf(French/Bush) Beans, Eggplant, French Tarragon, Ginger(e) Lettuce, Marrow(p), Okra(e)(though am told can do well 'til Feb),

  • Oregano, Pumpkin, Radish, Rockmelon(p), Rosella, Silverbeet( Swiss Chard), Squash, Sunflower, Sweet Corn, Sweet Potato,

  • Tomatoes, Turnip, Watermelon(p), Zucchini.


Planning to Plant

If we don't get regular rain then all parts of the garden will require regular heavy watering during the next few months.

The need for large, consistent amouts of water is high on the priority list for the fruit garden.

Anything with heavy crops should be watered consistently and evenly so there is little danger of drying out.

If drying out does occur and then plants watered this is when fruit will often split making it susceptible to disease and insect pests.

This can also have adverse effects on other  plants - particularly tomatoes.

Fluctuating supply of moisture prevents the plant from taking up calcium and wasted fruits are a result.

Another reason the mulching mentioned earlier is of benefit - meaning one good watering a week will be enought to provide a good healthy yield.


Welcome Gifts

At this time of year gifts are sometimes difficult to think of.

A plant can be a most welcome gift for many people including children.

They continue to grow in size and beauty (as well as last longer than a box of chocolates) and are a constant reminder of the giver.

Remember an indoor plant is only a plant that can hanle the added stress of growing indoors.

As growing indoors will rob the plant of most of the usual elements needed to flourish; rain, fresh air and sunshine.

Plants to consider that require minimum care and can be planted into a garden are:Camellias and Azaleas.

Others for the garden at this time are Citrus: Lemon, Grapefruit or Cumquat.

Houseplants or container specimens besides Ornamental flowering types:

  • Anthurium, Bromeliad, Cacti and succulents, Lady Palm, Peace or Madonna Lilly, Phalaenopsis Orchid.




Large leafy plants in containers dry out suprisingly quickly at this time. Be prepared that you may need to top up water twice daily.

If necessary add a weak liquid fertiliser at least once per week.

Besides Foliar Feeding (see below), well diluted liquid fertilisers or slow release granules are good value.

One of the best tonics for houseplants is to be rained on - remember to shield them from winds and to bring back inside once the sun reappears.

This will help to refresh the plant brilliantly by washing away accumulated dust and debris.

If you are going away for a few days during the break, start bringing some plants away from window to prepare them for duller light.

Withered or dead leaves can be a source of infection or pests - so be vigilant about clearing away plant debris.

Ferns and palms struggle with warm, dry conditions; keep a spray bottle handy to mist them regularly through the day.

For an excellent foliar feed consider adding a tiny amount of seaweed concentrate to the water -enough to make the colour of weak tea.

Recieved a new plant as a gift and it's struggling to adjust - dropping leaves? Recreate humid growing conditions by placing the plant on a large plant saucer, which is filled with small stones and topped up with water.

This should give it a little boost and help it find its feet.



Towards the end of December you will find most spring bulbs foliage will have died back or turned yellow.

This means they have become dormant and may be safely lifted.

Bulbs such as Hyacinth and Tulips must be lifted every year and replanted in March/April.

If the lifting out does not occur chances are you will eventually lose your bulbs.


Will need faded blooms and seedpods removed - urgently.

Black Spot - the bane of rose leaves, can be kept in check if using drip irrigation rather than sprinklers as wet leaves drip and spread the disease.


Remember regular mowing and not to cut too low during spring and summer - give roots a chance to go deep and lawns a better chance if we have a dry summer.

Remove no more than a third in any mow unless you are going for a dethatch and then go with the advice given for that.

Do not mow newly established lawns until they reach around the 8cm in growth.


Citrus / Fruit

Stone Fruit, especially peach and nectarine, will need plenty of nutrients with a high nitrogen content.

Consider: Blood and bone, manure or similar organic fertiliser or you could even try our Organic Lawn & Plants liquid Fertiliser.

Remember, water first then again heavily afterwards.

Refer above in planning to plant section about regular watering and impact if allowed to dry out.

Foliar Feed

A very effective, gentle method for feeding many plants is by spraying the leaves with heavily diluted minerals.

Seaweed concentrate is particularly good from now.

Seaweed concentrate is often mistakenly referred to as a fertiliser when it is really a soil conditioner.

However, when applied to foliage of plants on a monthly basis, the response can be so significant that the term "foliar feed" is accurate.

Some plants prefer this style of feeding better than others.

Citrus trees thrive with regular seaweed sprays as do plants such as camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas and roses.

The main thing to remember is to make sure it is well diluted as other than wasting product it can sometimes damage sensitive plants.


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