Regional To-Do List: December Gardening Tasks For The West Coast

Gardener Planting Flowers In The Garden
(Image credit: AlexRaths)

As the year rolls all too fast toward December, gardeners on the West Coast are putting together their to-do lists for the month. One of the great advantages of western gardening is that there is always something you can tackle to get your outdoor plant fix.

With its winter rains and generally mild weather, the West Coast has its own garden calendar. Here is a regional to do list for the last month of the year to help you prepare for the year to come.

December in the West

The Pacific Ocean plays a large role in West Coast weather, from Washington down to the southern tip of California. December brings rain, not snow, to most areas, and the weather is usually good enough for continued planting. This depends, of course, on your exact address, since those in the Rockies are certainly going to experience snow and ice.

But you’ll find lots of planting on lists of December gardening tasks for coastal area. What’s on the planting list in December in the West? Well, spring bulbs to start. In many areas, including coastal California, you can still plant bulbs for spring flowers through December. And in the Las Vegas area, gardeners can plant bulbs too, like tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinth. 

Regional to Do List: Planting

But spring bulbs are just the beginning when it comes to planting in December in the West. This is a great time to plant perennials including garden favorites like camellias. Bare root roses can also be planted now. And if you want wildflowers in your garden, you can sow the seeds right now. 

Most shrubs and trees are good to go for planting in the West, and installing them belongs on the regional to do list. Given the winter rains, these plants will have the chance to get their roots well established before lush growth in spring.

Garden Calendar for December

Although western gardening includes extended planting periods, there are also more mundane tasks to attend to as the year wraps up. If you haven’t cleaned up the garden, now’s the time to do it, raking up detritus and removing dead or dying annuals. 

December is also a good time to prepare new beds for spring plantings. After weeding and breaking up the soil, mix in ample compost or manure and let the air and water do their magic. Come spring, you will be ready to go.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.