The Neighborhood Gardener – December

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Winter Berries

Holly leaves and red berriesFrom hollies to viburnum, winter brings pops of color to the landscape in the form of berries. Planting one of these winter berry plants ensures you will have plenty of material for your holiday swags and wreaths. You will also encourage songbirds and other wildlife to frequent your yard. We have several Florida-Friendly plant suggestions to add winter color to the landscape.

Master Gardener Volunteer Legacy Award

small plant id sign reading Dragon Heart Red, Caladium bicolorThe Master Gardener Legacy Fund was created to provide financial support for outstanding Master Gardener Volunteer projects. This year, the UF/IFAS Extension Brevard County Master Gardener Volunteer program won the award, which will go towards educational upgrades for the Brevard Discovery Gardens. Read more about the Brevard Master Gardener Volunteers' project to create improved signage for each plant in the gardens.

Christmas Palm

Palm treesChristmas palm is one of the few palm species that will do well in a small site. The common name comes from the clusters of bright red fruits that adorn these trees in late fall and winter, giving the plants the appearance of being decorated for the holidays. With the recent history of warm winters, use of Christmas palm in the landscape has migrated north to Central Florida, but take note that these palms are only cold hardy to 30°F. Read more about Adonidia merrillii.
Photo by Scott Zona. Used with permission.

Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy WilberThe holiday season is here. It is a busy time of year for many folks. I think of it as the season of lists: shopping list, gift lists, and Santa's naughty or nice list. As you are placing checkmarks next to people's names, I would like you to consider another list, the UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas list. This assessment uses standardized tools to evaluate the invasion risk of nonnative plant species in Florida. See what newly listed plants surprised Wendy.

Plant of the Month: Red Cedar

A small evergreen tree, almost teardrop shapedRed cedar is a Florida native evergreen that adds year-round color and texture to your landscape. This tree is highly tolerant of both drought and salt spray, making it an excellent choice for a variety of landscapes. Like many evergreen trees, red cedar plays an important role as nesting and roosting cover for birds and other wildlife in its dense foliage. Its pleasing form makes red cedar also popular as a cut or living Christmas tree. Red cedar trees can be grown in most areas of Florida. Learn more about Juniperus virginiana.

December in Your Garden

Orange amaryllis flowerAmaryllis is a popular plant for the holiday season. It can be forced to bloom now or planted outdoors for spring blooms. Use fallen leaves and other plant debris to provide the carbon ingredient needed for successful composting and also to make a good mulch.

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.