December Gardening Tasks – Winter In The Southwest Garden

Green Plants In Soil
(Image credit: SylvieBouchard)

Winter in the Southwest varies significantly. Snow is common at higher elevations, while low desert dwellers enjoy warm, sunny afternoons following chilly mornings. 

Either way, there are plenty of December gardening tasks to keep you busy. Your December gardening to-do list should include plenty of downtime; your garden rests during the winter, and so should you. 

Here are a few ideas for Southwest gardening in December.

December Gardening To-Do List: Tips on Southwest Gardening in December

  • Continue planting spring-blooming bulbs until the end of the year if the weather is comfortable and the ground isn’t frozen. Look for late-season bargains in garden centers.
  • Plant succulents, including yucca and agave now. This gives new plants all winter to settle in before warmer weather arrives in a few short months. If you’ve already had a hard freeze, postpone planting succulents until early spring. 
  • Remember the birds during winter in the Southwest. Keep feeders full of nutritious food and replace empty suet holders. Provide fresh water regularly if water ices over.
  • Continue to water evergreen shrubs and trees regularly through December if the ground isn’t frozen. Irrigation during a dry winter will pay off with healthier evergreens in spring. 
  • On the other hand, be careful not to overwater succulents, especially if winter weather is rainy. 
  • If you live at a high elevation, protect plants with a healthy layer of organic mulch.
  • December gardening tasks should include planting herbs such as thyme, parsley, chives, chamomile, lemon verbena, and rosemary. Protect the plants with mulch if you live in one of the Southwest’s chillier climates. 
  • Create new veggie or flower beds, or enlarge existing beds. Rent a sod-cutter if you’re converting a large area of lawn.
  • Give your indoor plants a little extra TLC in December. Move them away from drafty, chilly windows. Water them with tepid water, but don’t over-do; most indoor plants enter a dormant stage during the winter months and are more likely to rot in soggy soil.
Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.