December Garden Tips

Hello Friends, Neighbors, Fellow Gardeners,

In December it is time to spend time with family and friends enjoying holidays.  Here are some garden tips, educational opportunities, and events for December. Events include Flying Squirrels, Garden of Lights, A Forest Journey,  Introduction to iNaturalist, Winter Woods Weekend, International Migratory Bird Day Workshop, Garden After Dark: Holly Daze, Winter Solstice Celebration, and more!


  • When planning your wildlife-friendly backyard don’t forget to include native trees apple-ciderand shrubs that produce fall and winter persistent fruits.
  • Evaluate gardening year and make notes of desired changes.
  • Start collecting plant seeds for next year and for trading.
  • Sign up your friends and family for garden magazine subscriptions as holiday gifts.
  • Support our local farmers! Visit a local farmers’ market near you. Download Montgomery County’s Office of Agriculture Farmer’s Market Flyer to find a farmer’s market near you.

Flowers and Groundcovers:

  • Water transplants if weather is dry.
  • Force spring bulbs for indoor blooms this January by potting them up, watering thoroughly, and placing them in your vegetable crisper for about 10 weeks.
  • Take cuttings from coleus and begonias to propagate and over-winter indoors.
  • Pests to watch for: voles
  • Diseases to watch for:  powdery mildew, rust, bacterial diseases, fungal leaf spot.
  • See UMD’s HGIC’s December Flower tips for more details.

Trees and Shrubs:

  • Prune maples, dogwoods, birch, elm, walnut, and yellowwood to prevent “bleeding”.
  • Water slowly and deeply if weather is very dry.evergreen
  • Prune out Fireblight damage Malus and Pyrus when very cold.
  • Mulch or compost healthy leaves.
  • If your conifers start shedding their needles or your spring bulb foliage starts peeking out of the ground, don’t worry. This is normal for our autumn cycle.
  • Prune evergreens to get in shape for fall/winter.
  • Prune and thin shrubs that have already flowered.
  • Water newly planted trees and shrubs weekly or as needed.
  • Pests to watch for:  adelgids, aphids, scale, sawfly, spidermites, and voles.
  • Diseases to watch for: Fireblight
  • See HGIC’s December Trees and Shrubs Tips for more details.

Herbs, Veggies, and Fruit:

  • Protect fig trees from freezing by piling up leaves around them.
  • Prune out Fireblight damage on apples and pears when very cold.

    Apple tree with fireblight
  • This is a good time to have your vegetable garden and landscape soils tested.
  • Preserve gourds and dry flowers for display in the fall.
  • Watch for insect and disease problems throughout your garden.
  • Pests to watch for: asparagus beetle, aphids, cabbage worms, corn earworm, and cutworms
  • Diseases to watch for: Fungal, bacterial, viral diseases
  • Here are some more fruit and vegetable gardening tips for December from UMD’s HGIC.


  • Have soil tested (every 3 years minimum).
  • Fertilize your lawn and reseed if needed.
  • Apply fertilizer and lime to turfgrass based on soil tests and UME recommendations.
  • Rake leaves, shred, and gather in compost piles.
  • Turn your compost pile weekly and don’t let it dry out. Work compost into your planting beds.
  • Diseases to watch for: brown patch, and red thread
  • Pests to watch for: Grubs
  • See HGIC’s December Lawn Tips for more details.


  • Clean the leaves of your indoor houseplants to prevent dust and film to build-up.
  • Set up a humidifier for indoor plants or at least place them in pebble trays.
  • Reduce fertilizing of indoor plants (except cyclamen)."Special" variety from last year's Poinsettia Sale
  • Rotate houseplants to promote even growth.
  • Do not place live wreaths or greenery in-between your door and a glass storm door, especially if the doorway is facing south. This placement will “cook” the arrangement on a sunny day.
  • For readying Christmas cactus and poinsettias for holiday blooming, see holiday blooming tips: Poinsettia Plant Care, Holiday Plant Care
  • Remove old leaves, damaged stems.
  • Fertilize houseplants now that they are actively growing again.
  • Repot root-bound houseplants and start fertilizing them.
  • Pests to watch for:  aphids, spider mites, and  whitefly
  • See HGIC’s December Houseplants Tips for more tips.

Indoor/Outdoor Insect and Wildlife Tips:

  • Keep bird feeders filled for birds in the winter.winter birds and feeder
  • Vacuum up any ladybugs that come in the house.
  • Don’t put your birdbath away. Birds need fresh water for drinking and bathing throughout the fall season. Clean frequently and keep filled with fresh water.
  • Check for vole problems and set up traps.
  • Switch your deer deterrent spray.
  • See HGIC’s December Insect Tips for more details.
  • Watch for: carpenter ants, flies, stink bugs, termites, rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs, deer, moles, snakes, squirrels, and voles.
  • For more information on wildlife management and attracting wildlife see HGIC’s December Wildlife tips.

Source: University of Maryland’s Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC) and the Washington Gardener.

Please Support the Mill Creek Towne Garden Club

Christmas 1972 Anniversary image 2017

Hello Friends, Neighbors,

Please support the Mill Creek Towne Garden Club! Your donations will help us continue to provide garden-related programs to the community and pay for maintaining and landscaping the Mill Creek Towne main entrances.

We accept donations throughout the year. Thanks to all of you that have recently donated as well as those of you who have supported us in the past years! Thanks for your continued support of the Mill Creek Towne Garden Club and our community programs!

Mill Creek Towne Garden Club – Derwood, Maryland | | Like us on Facebook


See below for upcoming local events in December.


Montgomery Parks Special Events & Festivals

More events are being added regularly. Please check back often!

Save the dates for these upcoming events!   Events include Flying Squirrels, Garden of Lights, A Forest Journey,  Introduction to iNaturalist, Winter Woods Weekend, International Migratory Bird Day Workshop, Garden After Dark: Holly Daze, Winter Solstice Celebration, and more!

Master Gardener Plant Clinics

Varied Locations, dates, and times

What can Master Gardeners do for you?Montgomery County Master Gardeners logo

  • Help you select and care for annual and perennial plants, shrubs and trees.
  • Determine if you need to test your soil.
  • Provide you with information on lawn care.
  • Identify weeds, beneficial and noxious insects, and plant diseases and remedies.
  • Teach you how to use pesticides, mulch and compost.
  • Guide you in pruning trees and shrubs.
  • Provide you with options for managing wildlife.
  • Provide you with gardening resources.
  • Help you submit a plant sample for diagnosis

Plant Clinics are held at several sites in the county on a weekly basis and at special events such as garden festivals and the county fair. Regularly scheduled Plant Clinics are located at public libraries and farmers’ markets throughout the county as well as at the Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase.  There are also clinics three days per week at Brookside Gardens.  The busiest season is April through September, but some clinics are open year-round.  Bring your plant samples and questions to one of these locations in Montgomery County, MD (see link below to find a location near you):

Flying Squirrels

Friday, December 1 | 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Friday, December 8 | 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Brookside Nature Center, Wheaton

Maryland Flying Squirrels are abundant, cute, and active year-round, but few see them in the wild because they are active at night – nocturnal. BNC has established a squirrel feeding station so some of our flying squirrels can be seen close up by our visitors. The program starts on the Nature Center deck 30 minutes after sunset to allow the sky to darken. Rain or snow cancels the program.


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