Is cabin fever wearing you down? Ready to play in the garden despite it being the coldest stretch of the year? Break out your thickest gardening gloves and a coat because there are a few plants you can start, even in December.
Before beginning, be sure to check out the USDA Plant Zone Hardiness Map to identify your planting zone.
- What to Plant In December In Zones 1a to 3b
- What to Plant In December In Zones 4a to 5b
- What to Plant In December In Zones 6a to 9b
- What to Plant In December In Zones 10a to 12b
- Indoor Container Gardening in December
- Winter Gardening and December Gardening FAQs
- What Should I Do In My Garden In December?
What to Plant In December In Zones 1a to 3b
Most of Alaska, Montana, and North Dakota. Parts of Wyoming, Idaho, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
For this zone, you’ll need to plant inside your home or in a greenhouse if you want to get some winter gardening accomplished.
The issue isn’t necessarily because the cold is too harsh for seeds; it’s because the ground is usually frozen solid and unworkable.
If, for some reason, you’re having a warm enough December that you can still stick a spade in the ground, try:
These plants won’t emerge until spring, but they’ll get a good start for when your ground starts to thaw out.
For this region, it’s better to focus on growing plants indoors. You can technically grow any garden plant inside as long as you have the space and the lighting to provide for it.
What to Plant In December In Zones 4a to 5b
Most of Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine. Parts of Alaska, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
In this zone in December, you can also plant:
You can also sprinkle
- pumpkin (click here to learn all about pumpkins),
- squash, and
- gourd seeds on the ground, preferably under the snow, to sprout in the late spring.
Again, because this is such a cold area, it’s better to focus on indoor gardening in containers rather than outdoor gardening during December.
Read more: Top 9 Best Fruit Trees for Zone 4
What to Plant In December In Zones 6a to 9b
Most of Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Parts of Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.
In Zones 6a to 9b, you have significantly more options.
In December, you may plant:
- broad beans,
- Swiss chard,
- rape, and
You can also plant the following vegetables earlier in the year, usually late fall, to harvest throughout the winter, including December.
What to Plant In December In Zones 10a to 12b
Most of Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Parts of Texas, Louisiana, California, Arizona, and Florida.
In this zone, the temperature seldom falls below freezing. Thankfully, the few times it does, it is an exceptionally light frost from which you can easily protect your plants. You can plant almost anything you want here!
All of the crops mentioned above grow here, as well as
- peppers of all kinds,
- sweet potatoes,
- all sorts of beans,
- rosemary, and more!
Indoor Container Gardening in December
Indoor container gardening is always an option too.
The only thing that can hold you back with indoor container gardening is space and lighting. If you have a large enough pot and a bright enough grow light, anything is possible.
If you’re a little more limited on space or artificial lighting, try keeping small containers on your windowsills. Herbs are a great option. Just be sure to check your windows for drafts. Plants, especially young ones, do not tolerate cold drafts well at all.
Planting Microgreens in December
If you have a grow light and some seed trays, try your hand at raising microgreens inside your home. Microgreens grow fast, sometimes ready for harvest in as little as a week, and they take up very little space.
Some popular microgreens to grow indoors over the winter:
- Red cabbage
- Swiss Chard
Check out True Leaf Market for an amazing variety of organic and non-GMO microgreens seeds. They have all the varieties above and much, much more.
You can’t go past Bootstrap Farmer for your microgreens tray supplies, especially if you’re buying in bulk, but True Leaf Market has fantastic kits available as well, which include everything you need to get started.
Hydroponic Gardening in December
One last option to consider for indoor gardening is hydroponics. Hydroponic gardening is low maintenance and space-effective. Hydroponic towers are relatively affordable, or at least easy to make, and an excellent solution for the December gardener.
Some easy plants to start with in your hydroponic garden are:
- Bok choy
- Herbs include peppermint, basil, oregano, sage, stevia, tarragon, rosemary, and lemon balm.
Winter Gardening and December Gardening FAQs
We know choosing crops to grow in December is tricky – especially if you’ve never started a cold weather garden.
We hope our cold-weather gardening FAQs help.
Try planting cold-weather hardy plants, such as kale, garlic, and onion, in your winter garden, so long as they are suitable for your region and can be covered or brought indoors during cold spells.
You can also try your hand at microgreens or hydroponic gardening to increase your range of crops in winter!
If you’re growing indoors, you may plant tomatoes, potatoes, peas, squash, lettuce, arugula, spinach, peppers, cucumbers, squash, radishes, eggplants. Also, consider herb-type plants such as basil, oregano, rosemary, mint, sage, sorrel, thyme, lemon balm, chives, bay, and parsley.
You can start a garden in December if you live in a warm region. December gardening also works if you start the seedlings indoors or if you grow and keep the plant in a container and inside. You can prepare your garden for spring if you live in colder regions. But make sure the ground isn’t frozen solid!
It is not too late to plant a winter garden if you have the right tools. You can start seeds in seedling trays, keep vegetables inside indoor containers, or plant outside if you live in the correct USDA hardiness zone.
You can start some seeds indoors. Our favorite seeds for cold weather are mustard, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale, parsnips, or radishes to plan for winter. Each plant is beautiful with unique colors and will brighten up any garden.
If you are growing plants indoors over the winter, consider tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, salad mixes, and beets to brighten up your wintertime indoor garden.
Cold hardy plants can be planted outside during the winter, granted you live in the correct USDA grow zone. You can also cultivate your garden indoors in containers or start seeds in trays in your house. Look at vegetables like kale, cabbage, onions, turnips, beetroot, potatoes, and garlic.
What Should I Do In My Garden In December?
If you’re feeling restless and want to spend time in your garden during winter, consider adding or upgrading your hardscapes. Add or move rocks, build a fence (if the ground isn’t frozen solid), add in bug hotels, bat boxes, benches, rocking chairs, and a pergola, or even build yourself a potting station.
You may be able to add in new soil, compost, or fertilizer during the winter, too. If you never got around to mulching your garden in the fall, try doing that now.
If you have a cottage garden, take the time to walk your pathways and admire the beauty of winter while meandering through your garden.
Once you’re all caught up with those tasks, start brushing up on your gardening knowledge. Read a book, listen to a podcast, watch a YouTube video, or scroll through our extensive series of gardening blog posts.
What will you do in the garden this December? Are you decorating for Christmas? Starting seeds indoors to get ready for spring? Let us know!
We know homesteading is difficult these days – especially in the winter when food gets scarce.
We hope our guide on December gardening and cold-weather sprouting helps you.
If you have tips or tricks about gardening during cold seasons, please share them with us!
Or, if you have winter gardening questions, let us know in the comments.
Thanks again for reading.
And have a great day!