December in the Southern California Garden
Each month has its special joys and tasks in the garden. Below is a suggested calendar for December. Remember that gardening depends on the weather, so tasks, bloom season and activities may vary from year to year.
You can download this calendar at: http://www.slideshare.net/cvadheim/december-in-the-southern-california-garden
Best of Show:
§ Flowers: Ribes malvaceum, * Ribes sanguineum, Arctostaphylos groundcovers, Cneoridium dumosum
§ Fruits/berries: Heteromeles arbutifolia, Symphoricarpos spp.
§ Foliage: * Acer negundo, * Berberis (Mahonia) aquifolium, *Cercis orbiculata/occidentales, Lyonothamnus floribundus, Ribes aureum
· Wait ’til next month – you’re busy now!
§ Check your hardscape after hard rains; you may need to make some repairs
§ Rake paths of fallen leaves; compost or use as mulch if appropriate
§ Clear paths and hardscape areas of unwanted seedlings – remove with hoe, hula-hoe or trowel. Spray cracks in dry-set pavers and bricks with vinegar to kill unwanted seedlings (may take several doses).
Propagation: major propagation month
§ Start from seed: annual wildflowers in containers; shrub & tree seeds w/ short/no pre-chill req.; cool season veggies
§ check seeds stratifying in refrigerator; plant in nursery pots when you start seeing tiny roots emerge
§ Start cuttings from vines, grapes, elderberry
Planting: good planting month (if rainy)
§ Good month for planting native plants from containers if rains have started
§ Plant native annual wildflower seeds in prepared beds just before a good rainstorm
§ Plant cool-season grasses/sedges from plugs/starts
§ Cool season veggies from seed or starts/pony-packs; include some ‘native greens’ like Claytonia
§ If rains have not yet begun in earnest, it’s time to start watering. Check soils periodically during hot, windy, dry weather and water as needed. Water garden well if soils become dry or if no rain for 3 weeks or longer.
§ Once rains saturate the soil you can turn off your irrigation system (if you have one)
Pruning: major pruning month
§ Prune/train to shape:
§ Winter-deciduous trees/shrubs
§ Woody vines: Lonicera spp., Vitis spp., etc.
§ Prune to thin: choose a dry period if possible
§ Most winter-deciduous trees/shrubs
§ Pines, junipers, citrus
§ Prune back groundcover perennials/sub-shrubs:
§ Diplacus/Mimulus spp.
§ Mint family: Monardella spp., Salvia spathacea, Stachys spp.
§ Epilobium canum
§ Coppice (severe prune) to rejuvenate old plants (dormant)
§ Berberis/Mahonia spp.
§ Cleome isomeris
§ Dendromecon spp.
§ Heuchera spp and cultivars
§ * Iva hayesiana
§ Keckiella spp.
§ Lyonothamnus spp.
§ Malacothamnus spp.
§ Rosa spp.
§ Symphorocarpus spp.
§ Weedy grasses and others may start to grow, particularly in a warm spell – get them out with a hoe or hula-hoe
§ Make a holiday decoration like a grape or Toyon wreath using native plant materials
§ Use a picture of your Toyon for your holiday cards.
§ Dry cuttings from salvias and other scented plants; make potpourri for the holiday
§ Give seeds, plants, jams, jellies, etc. from your own garden as unique holiday gifts
Enjoying the garden:
§ Sit in the noon sun & enjoy the birds – migrants are here; you might even get some good photos
§ Hang a finch feeder in your garden; these busy wee creatures are such fun to watch!
§ Purchase or make a birdbath or bird drinker; then watch the daily show
§ Look for garden spots that might benefit from spring wildflowers – scatter seed before a rain storm
§ Go out and smell the aroma of the garden after a rain – heavenly!