The Neighborhood Gardener – December

Red poinsettias with speckles of white on the bracts

Happy New Year from UF/IFAS, the Master Gardener Volunteer Program, and your friendly Neighborhood Gardener!

safesubscribe logo

Five Facts About the Poinsettia

Red poinsettiasThe poinsettia is native to Mexico and Guatemala, where it is referred to as flor de nochebuena (Christmas Eve flower). It is the most popular holiday plant in the U.S. and for good reason; its botanical name (Euphorbia pulcherrima) literally means "very beautiful." But there might still be a few things you don't know about poinsettias. UF/IFAS Extension Botanist Marc Frank has the details. More

Five Herbs to Plant in December

Purple flowers of thymeWith the holiday season in full swing, it's easy to forget about updating the garden. The Neighborhood Gardener is here for you. These five herbs (like thyme, in photo) are easy to plant and they thrive in cool weather. Better still they make delicious additions to your holiday recipes. If you sow them this week you could have seedlings by 2020. More

Evergreen Arrangments Tutorial

Decorative swag on door with greenery and purple beautyberryAre your holiday decorations still a work in progress? Save money and go green this year by decking the halls with these Florida-Friendly evergreen swags. This DIY article will help you choose plants from your landscape and construct beautiful arrangements. Simply layer branches and sprigs, tie a bow, and you're finished. Hang your arrangement wherever your home needs a pop of color. More

Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy WilberIn a recent conversation with a farmer, he said to me, "The less I spray, the less I have to." He was speaking about insect control on his fruit trees. It took me a second or two to catch his drift, but once I did we shared the concept of protecting beneficial insects so they can control the pest insects. In the landscape and vegetable garden you can use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to control pests responsibly. More

Plant of the Month: Chastetree

Small purple flowers clustered in tall conical spikesFound in gardens across the country, chastetree, or vitex, (Vitex agnus-castus) is a large, deciduous, flowering shrub. It puts on a show from late spring through fall with its beautiful bluish-purple flowers clustered along tall spikes. Although not itself a Florida native species, chastetree is very attractive to native Florida wildlife. Native butterflies, hummingbirds, birds, and bees come from miles around to enjoy chastetree's nectar and seeds. This plant's curious name finds its roots in the oldest surviving natural history text, Naturalis Historia. More

December in Your Garden

A reddish orange trumpet shaped flower with streaks of yellow running through the middle of each petal.Cool-season vegetable gardening is under way in Florida: beets, broccoli, greens, carrots, and celery are just a few edibles to plant throughout the state this month. Amaryllis is a popular holiday plant. It can be forced to bloom now or planted outdoors for spring blooms.

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.

What's Going On?

If your Master Gardener program or Extension office is having an event, be sure to share it with us.