December gardening tasks for the upper Midwest states of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are limited. The garden may be largely dormant now but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to do. Focus on maintenance, preparation and planning, and houseplants.
What to Do in the Upper Midwest in December – Maintenance
It’s cold outside and winter has begun, but you can still get in some garden maintenance work. Take advantage of days that are unseasonably warm to do tasks like fence repair or work on your shed and tools.
Take care of perennial beds by adding mulch if you haven’t yet. This will help protect against frost heaving. Keep evergreens healthy and whole by knocking down heavy snow that threatens to break branches.
Upper Midwest Gardening Tasks – Preparation and Planning
Once you run out of things to do outside, spend some time prepping for spring. Go over the past season to analyze what worked and what didn’t. Plan any changes you want to make for next year. Some other prep work you can do now includes:
- Buying seeds
- Organize and inventory seeds you already have
- Choose trees or shrubs that need a late winter/early spring pruning
- Organize stored veggies and determine what to grow more or less of next year
- Clean and oil tools
- Get a soil test through your local extension office
Regional To-Do List – Houseplants
Where you can still get your hands dirty and actively grow plants in December in the upper Midwest is inside. Houseplants can get more of your attention now than most of the year, so spend some time caring for them:
- Water plants regularly
- Keep them warm enough by moving away from cold drafts and windows
- Wipe down plants with large leaves to remove dust
- Check houseplants for disease or pests
- Give them a regular misting to make up for the dry winter air
- Force bulbs
There is plenty you can do in December for your garden and houseplants, but this is also a good time to rest. Read gardening books, plan for next year, and dream of spring.