University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener – December

Happy holidays!

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Poinsettias: Holiday Color for the Home & Garden

Pink and cream poinsettiaPoinsettias are an iconic holiday decoration, instantly recognizable for their colorful, petal-like leaves called bracts. But today's cultivated poinsettias come in a variety of colors besides the traditional red. And new varieties, like Ice Punch and Peppermint Twist, have been bred to last even longer indoors. More 


Magnolia garlandGarlands are an ancient holiday tradition, dating as far back as Greek and Roman times. Ropes of garland are often made from evergreen material, like pine and cedar, as it's pliable and relatively easy to work with. To make your own garland, cut branches ranging in lengths from six to twelve inches long. Overlap the branches and attach them using twine or wire. For a truly Southern look, you can even make garland with Southern magnolia leaves. Their leathery coating will keep them looking good for some time. More

Plant of the Month: Shumard Oak

Shumard oak acorns photo by Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.), Bugwood.orgIdeal for urban landscapes, Shumard oak is appreciated for its interesting foliage. It features traditional oak-shaped leaves that are dark green throughout most of the year and then turn a brilliant red or red-orange in fall. Once mature, these shade trees can reach 80 feet tall and have a 50- to 60-foot canopy. Shumard oak can be grown throughout Florida in full sun. It will grow best in a soil that's rich and moist, though it can also be planted in drier sites. More

December in Your Garden

Fallen leaves provide the carbon needed for successful composting and also make a good mulch. If plants did not perform as desired this year or new plantings are being planned, a soil test will reveal the specific nutrients that need to be applied.

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? Foe: Raccoons

Raccoon on hummingbird feederRaccoons are very well-adapted to urban areas and often make a nuisance of themselves getting into trash, the vegetable garden, or worse, your attic. They're also a major carrier of rabies in Florida. But there are inexpensive and simple ways to control this nuisance, mainly through exclusion and prevention.  More

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Dusty Miller plant
Photo: Rob Hille

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