Are there plants that will happily go into the ground at Christmastime? You bet. In Florida, planting and growing seasons continue through the winter months. Planting broccoli and moving shrubs across the yard are just a few tasks perfectly suited for December.
If you were to poll homeowners in Florida about the best time to plant, chances are spring and summer would be the most popular answers. Maybe you would answer the same way. It might come as a surprise to learn that there’s plenty of work to be done in December. From planting vegetables to pruning roses, there’s something to keep everyone busy.
Vegetables: Cool Weather Crops
Vegetables come in cool- and warm-season varieties. Naturally, warm-season veggies should be planted when temperatures are higher. In Central Florida, for example, March is the time to plant okra, pumpkins, and tomatoes. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait until then to get something in the ground.
Broccoli can be planted until February in North Florida, and until January in Central and South Florida. A member of the cabbage family, this vegetable takes 2-3 months to mature, so you can plan to harvest between March and April if you plant now.
Onions, one of those ingredients that seem to find its way into so many recipes, are best when planted from September-December in North and Central Florida. If that’s you, time is almost up! Harvest is 110-160 days from planting. Southern Floridians just missed their September-November window, but next September will be here before you know it.
If you’re in Miami lamenting the missed onion window, don’t worry: herbs are much more forgiving. Basil, cardamom, chives, ginger, mint, oregano, and thyme are all examples of herbs that can be planted now. The planting season for some ends in May, but some herbs can even be planted year-round.
Adding or Transplanting Shrubs
December is the ideal time to add or move shrubs on your property. Some, such as oleander, anise, and viburnum, can even substitute for trees with time and training. Consider the final purpose a shrub will serve before planting. Training will take several years and regular attention to keep growth directed as desired.
If you have shrubs in an undesired location, the winter months are good for transplanting. Ensure the soil is moist; this will help you dig up the roots with minimal damage. The bigger and more intact the rootball, the smoother the transplant will be.
What’s not to love about roses in Florida? They’re beautiful and tough, but they can be caught off guard and damaged by cold temperatures. In December, you can continue adding roses in your flower beds. Young plants will need help resisting the cold—an upside-down bucket or a mound of hay will do the trick.
In preparation for frosts, water the soil around your roses to help get them through the cold weather. The most damaging freezes are those preceded by warm days, so don’t be surprised when new shoots and buds die. Simply prune the dead portions when you notice them.
Going Strong in December
Gardening and lawn care continue even in cool weather. Enjoy the time off from weekly mowing by planting vegetables or herbs, adding or transplanting shrubs, and caring for your roses.