University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener – December

Happy gardening!

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Helping Cavity-Nesting Birds

Young American kestrelGardeners love to have birds and other wildlife in their yards. More than 25 bird species in Florida require cavities in trees as nesting sites, including woodpeckers, Carolina chickadees, brown-headed nuthatches, and American kestrels (photo, right). Read on for steps you can take to attract birds like these to your yard. Learn more.

Planting Blueberries

Blueberries are a wonderful edible addition to your landscape. The best time to plant them is from mid-December to mid-February. You can either plant bare-root or container-grown plants. Usually, blueberry plants benefit from incorporating ¼ to ½ cubic foot of acidic sphagnum peat moss into the planting hole. Pine bark mulch also aids in blueberry plant establishment. Make sure to plant in a sunny area away from tree roots. Find out more about growing blueberries in the Blueberry Gardener's Guide.

Plant of the Month: Weeping Yaupon Holly

Red holly berriesAdd color and whimsy to your yard with weeping yaupon holly, an interesting tree that bears clusters of bright berries each winter along its cascading branches. Native to Florida, weeping yaupon hollies should be planted in a spot where they'll receive full or partial sun. They'll tolerate a range of soils and conditions. More

December in Your Garden

Poinsettias are one of the most popular holiday plants. Enjoy them indoors and then plant them in the garden for re-blooming next year. While cooler weather generally means fewer pests, some populations increase at this time of year. Continue monitoring and treat as needed.

For more month-by-month gardening tips, check out the Florida Gardening Calendar. Three different editions of the calendar provide specific tips for each of Florida's gardening regions—North, Central, and South. More

Friend or Foe? Neither: Velvet Ant

female velvet antThe velvet ant, also called "cow killer," is actually neither an ant nor a cow killer. The velvet ant belongs to the wasp family. The name "cow killer" comes from the pain inflicted by the sting of the velvet ant, which has been said to be strong enough to "kill a cow." Only female velvet ants have the capacity to sting. Unlike their cousins the bees, velvet ants are solitary creatures. These "ants" do not cause plant or property damage and should be left alone. More

Deer Damage in the Garden

If you've ever had problems with deer in your garden, it may seem like they'll eat everything they find. However, they do prefer some plants over others. Learn whether the shrubs and trees in your yard are among their favorites. More

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