December garden plant maintenance

December garden plant maintenance in Wokingham and Maidenhead

Berkshire and surrounding areas

So here’s December already, and that of course means Christmas!

There are some plants that are synonymous with December and Christmas. In the garden, Hellebores are starting to flower. Helleborus niger’s common name is ‘Christmas Rose’: it has cup-shaped, pure white flowers, likes moist soil conditions and will grow in a sunny site or in partial shade. Christmas Roses look great when planted in drifts or under trees as they are shade tolerant.

Sarcococca humilis, better known by its common name ‘Christmas box’, is a small evergreen shrub which grows to one metre. It has creamy white, highly scented flowers which, if picked and brought into your home, will scent the whole room!

Holly is a tree we always associate with winter and is always closely linked to the Christmas festivities.If you have space they are worth planting for their berries and foliage. However, it’s worth remembering that Hollies are either male or female and only the female varieties will carry berries. There is a self-fertilising (hermaphrodite) variety called Ilex aquifolium ‘J C van Tol’. This has an almost spineless, shiny, dark green leaf and a reliable crop of shiny red berries.

A lovely small evergreen shrub, Skimmia ‘Rubella’ is an excellent addition to any winter garden. What look like red flowers are actually tight red buds which will eventually open in spring to reveal sweetly scented, pink, star-like flowers.

The other plant which is linked to Christmas is the Poinsettia. This house plant is best kept in a draft-free room in a light position. They dislike drying out, so keep the compost moist and tip any excess water away 15 minutes after watering as they don’t like standing in water either! People ask how you get them to flower again. The trick is to expose them to 10 hours of natural light, no more, because this is what triggers the growth of bright red bracts. Left to their own devices they would flower in autumn but the growers trick them by controlling the light in the greenhouses to get them ready for the Christmas market.

We wish you all a very happy Christmas and, as ever, we look forward to helping you with your garden.

December garden plant maintenance

  • Prune Apple and Pear trees
  • Start to force Rhubarb crowns with a forcer or if you do not have a forcer use a dark coloured bucket!
  • Check stored tubers such as Dahlias for signs of any rot and if found remove them.
  • Move your house plants into a brighter position if you can as ambient light levels in your house can be extremely low.
  • Hollow tine aerate lawns to improve your lawn’s root profile and prevent water logging.
  • Mulch your borders with the contents of your compost heap – there is no reason to dig it in, your friendly garden worms will do all the hard work for you.
  • Keep a check on planted containers so that they do not get dry and are draining freely.
  • Spray peaches and almonds for peach leaf curl.
  • Check that tree stakes and ties are firm but loosen any tree ties that have become too tight.