The Neighborhood Gardener – December

Christmas tree farm in Florida

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Garden Myths, Volume Three

A moleIn the spirit of the season, our third volume of myths addresses misunderstood garden visitors and offers you an opportunity to make peace with them. From "poisonous" snakes to malicious moles and frankenbugs, the tall tales passed along in gardening circles offer plenty of intrigue. We'll debunk some popular myths and share the truth behind the fiction. Read the full article and find out if sticks of gum really ward off this pest.


Stack of cut firewoodWinter is right around the corner. That means it's time for our favorite outdoor activities: camping, hiking, and gathering around a fire. When you choose your firewood this year, we encourage you to be extra choosy. "Buy local, burn local" to help protect our natural ecosystems and the forestry industry. This new article explains why it's so important to buy your firewood close to home and keep it there.

Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy WilberHopefully most of your holiday shopping is well in hand, but if you still have a gardener on your list I have a few suggestions for you. Gardening enthusiasts never have enough plants. They may say they don't need any more plants, but really — we are all addicted to the new and unusual plant specimen. There are many new plant boutiques in addition to our traditional garden centers. Stop by a plant shop and look for a unique house plant to delight the gardener on your list. Try to get as much information about the plant as possible to go along with the gift. See the rest of Wendy's gift suggestions.

Plant of the Month: Red Maple

Very large tree covered in red-orange foliageHave you spotted red maple yet this season? They're hard to miss! Every fall, the leaves of these trees erupt into a blaze of yellow, orange, and red, putting on a show that lasts several weeks. As a native plant, an abundant seed source, and a winter-blooming tree, it's also a favorite of birds and other native wildlife. This tree does best in wet, acidic soil with high organic matter. However, they will grow in other locations with adequate irrigation. In Florida, red maple out-performs sugar maple, Japanese maple, and several other maples. Learn more about the "swamp maple."

MGV Book Club

Cover of the How Plants Work bookAs the world opens up again, we might be ready to spend less time reading and more time gardening. But we've enjoyed our community readings and we're excited to announce that the Florida MGV Book Club will continue reading together each summer. Learn more about the Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Book Club.

December in Your Garden

Deep orange amaryllis flowerPlant masses of winter annuals for a pop of seasonal color. Amaryllis is a popular plant for the holiday season. It can be forced to bloom now or planted outdoors for spring blooms. Reliable cool-season vegetables to plant this month include broccoli, carrots, kale, green onions, and others. In the lawn, continue monitoring for brown patch and large patch fungal disease until May.

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 Volunteer program or Extension office is having an event, be sure to share it with us.