University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener – December

Happy Holidays!

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Gifting Plants

Pink and cream colored poinsettiaPlants make great gifts with beauty that continues long after the holidays are over. Christmas cactus and poinsettias are popular holiday gift plants. Amaryllis, rosemary topiaries, and even ornamental peppers can make festive gifts as well. When selecting a plant, make sure it has healthy foliage and that no roots are coming out of the pot. If you are purchasing a flowering plant, try to select one that hasn’t fully bloomed yet. Of course, always be sure to include care instructions. More

Have Yourself a Florida-Friendly Christmas

Holiday arrangement with palm fronds and dried fruitPolk Master Gardener Molly Griner has lots of helpful tips for decorating your home and garden this holiday season using Florida-Friendly plants. Consider evergreens, dried/preserved plant materials, and color (fruits and blossoms) when planning your natural holiday decorations. Decorating with these materials is easy; don’t think of it as arranging so much as gathering. This will make your decorating less stressful and more fun! More

Plant of the Month: Firethorn

Firethorn berriesTo add a pop of color in your winter garden, try planting firethorn. This evergreen shrub is known for the colorful berries it produces in cooler weather. Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea) can be grown as an espalier, used on slopes requiring little maintenance, or even as topiary. Just mind the thorns, which also make this plant an excellent barrier. It performs best in north and central parts of Florida and will thrive when planted in well-drained soil where it will receive full sun. More

December in Your Garden

Inspect your houseplants regularly for pests. Keep in mind that specific temperature, light, and humidity are key to ensuring that indoor plants thrive. Before you throw away fallen leaves from your yard, consider using them as mulch in your garden or adding them to your compost bin. Fallen leaves are a great source of carbon, a necessary ingredient for successful composting.

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.

Friend or Foe? Foe: Diamondback Moth

Diamondback moth larva feeding on leafThe larvae of the diamondback moth only chews on plants in the Brassicaceae family, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard, kale, and radish. Larvae start out small and colorless, quickly becoming green with small white patches. Their feeding results in irregular holes, where the leaf tissue has been removed except for the leaf veins. The easiest way to manage these pests is to scout for them frequently. When you see holes in leaves, search your plants for the larvae and pick them off and destroy them. This method is not only cheap and pesticide free, but also extremely effective. More

Palatka holly berries

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