What to See and Do in the Zone 6 December Garden


Holiday lights on homes and in gardens illuminate the longest nights of the year. And the garden provides holiday decorations; pinecones, berries, and boughs of holly are yours for the clipping!

What to See

  • Evergreens come into their own as other shrubs and trees stand leafless.
  • Holly, winterberry, and snowberry provide food for the birds (at least, as long as the berries last).
  • Dead stalks of the perennials provide cover and forage for birds and other wildlife through the winter.
winter greens berries

Pine, magnolia, and winterberry branches are driven right into the soil in containers for lovely winter arrangements that can handle the weather.

 What to Do

  • You can plant leftover spring-blooming bulbs until the ground freezes. (We’ve planted bulbs as late as Christmas!)
  • Use evergreens, pine cones, and other materials from the garden in windowboxes or containers. Wrap ceramic containers that will spend the winter outside in bubble wrap and burlap to protect them from cracking.
  • Apply compost or manure to garden beds. By putting these organic materials down now, you let winter rains, worms, and the freeze-thaw cycle work them into the ground for you.
  • If you have newly planted or especially tender plants, cover them with winter mulch once they go dormant. It’s better to wait until the ground freezes before applying this mulch; the mulch helps keep the ground frozen and prevents the freeze-thaw cycle from heaving plants out of the ground.
  • If you’re mulching roses, first mound soil to about a foot over the graft union, then add mulch on top.
  • Order new seed catalogs.




Amy graduated from DePauw University with a degree in physics, a lifelong love of theatre, and a problem-solving style that combines the approaches from both those fields. A Master Gardener and long-time communications professional, Amy conducts gardening seminars and blogs about gardening in addition to her work with Spotts.

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