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Arizona Garden in December

Arizona Garden in December

Low Desert Arizona Garden in December

What grows in low desert Arizona gardens in December? I’ll show you. All of these pictures come from my garden in Mesa, Arizona.

Low desert includes elevations below 3500 ft in the Southwest, such as the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas.

We garden in many parts of Arizona year-round, but we can’t grow everything all year. Take a look at what’s growing this month, and let me know what’s growing in your garden in the comments.



“The gardening season officially begins on January 1st, and ends on December 31.” – Marie Huston


Nowhere is this quote more true than in Arizona. While many parts of the country are dreaming of gardening and circling what they would like to plant in seed catalogs, in Arizona we are harvesting pounds of citrus and vegetables and planting seeds. 

The Arizona garden in December is a beautiful place. Chilly morning weather makes the afternoon my favorite time to be in the garden. Fall planting in September and October yields harvests in the Arizona garden in December. Watch the weather reports carefully and be prepared to cover frost-sensitive plants if we get a freeze. Cool temperatures in December help cool-season plants to thrive.

Keep reading for December garden inspiration, a December garden checklist, and a list of which flowers, herbs, and vegetables to plant in your Arizona garden in December.


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information.


What to Grow and Plant Arizona Garden #arizonagarden #arizona #garden #garden

Vegetables growing in the low desert Arizona garden in December

Tomatoes planted in July – September are producing. The cooler temperatures mean they take longer to ripen. Once temperatures drop below 55 degrees at night, the plant will not set new fruit, but fruit on the plant will continue to ripen. Tomato plants are frost-sensitive; cover if temperatures fall below 35 degrees F.  December is the time to start tomato seeds indoors for planting in February and March.


How to grow spinach: tips for growing spinach #spinach #howtogrow

Spinach planted in September is ready to enjoy. Harvest outer leaves and continue planting spinach through February.

This article has more information about how to grow spinach.


Succession plantings of the Brassica family, which include cabbage (pictured here), broccoliBrussels sproutscauliflowerkohlrabi, and kale, ensure a continual harvest. Harvest when young and tender for best taste.


Swiss chard is a staple in my garden year-round, but the newly-planted tender Swiss chard in the December garden is especially delicious. Continue to harvest outer leaves throughout the winter. Most years, many of my Swiss chard plants will produce through the summer as well. I like to replant and begin with fresh plants in the fall.


How to grow Radishes #growingradishes #plantingradishes #radishes #gardening #gardeningtips

Harvest radishes planted in the fall while young and tender. Continue to plant radishes through April for a continual harvest all winter.


Garden-fresh peas are one of my family’s favorite garden treats. Pick peas often and young to encourage production. Provide a trellis for growing peas.

For more information about different types of peas to try, read this article.


What to Grow and Plant Arizona Garden #arizonagarden #arizona #garden #garden

Flowers growing in the low desert Arizona garden in December


Marigolds that are planted now will thrive until the heat of April or May.


Gaziana is a low-growing, trailing evergreen perennial which grows 6 to 8 inches tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Grows best in full sun with well-drained soil.


Arizona Garden in December#gardening #garden #arizonagarden #decembergarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden

Continue to plant Dianthus. This cold-hardy annual will bloom until temperatures begin to climb in late spring.



What to Grow and Plant Arizona Garden #arizonagarden #arizona #garden #garden

Fruit trees in the low desert Arizona garden in December


Cooler temperatures cause citrus fruits to change color, but the color is not always an indicator of sweetness. Fruit does not sweeten once picked. Check for ripeness and desired sweetness by sampling the fruit.

  • Do not prune citrus this month.
  • Water citrus deeply once this month.

Deciduous fruit trees like peach, pear, and plum are losing their leaves. If all leaves do not fall, strip leaves to encourage dormancy.

  • Don’t prune until leaves have fallen.
  • When the scaffold is visible, prune deciduous fruit trees through February. Make cuts carefully and do not remove more than 25 percent of the tree.
  • December or January is a good time to use a dormant oil spray, such as horticultural oil on fruit trees to help prevent pests.

What to Grow and Plant Arizona Garden #arizonagarden #arizona #garden #garden

Herbs in the low desert Arizona garden in December


Arizona Garden in December#gardening #garden #arizonagarden #decembergarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden

Garlic chives are one of the easiest herbs to grow in Arizona. Harvest young stalks and use in eggs, marinades, and Asian dishes.

Divide garlic chives next month if the clumps are overgrown.


Arizona Garden in December#gardening #garden #arizonagarden #decembergarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden

Chamomile is an herb in the Asteraceae plant family. A natural remedy for several health conditions that is often consumed as tea is made by drying flowers and seeping them in hot water.

Read this article for more information about how to grow chamomile.


Arizona Garden in December#gardening #garden #arizonagarden #decembergarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden

Parsley grows well in the cooler weather of December. If you use a lot of parsley, consider succession planting it (planting every 3 weeks).

Read more about how to grow parsley here.


Low desert Arizona garden in December to-do list:


Planting:

  • Start seeds indoors for tomatoes and peppers this month. They will be ready to plant by February or March.
  • Begin planning for February and March plantings: order seeds and decide which areas in your garden to plant in (it is best to rotate where you plant your crops each year).
  • Plant cold-tolerant trees, bushes, and perennials if necessary, but protect new plants from freezing temperatures. Visit amwua.org for a list of more than two hundred landscape plants that do well in Arizona’s climate.
  • Wait until February to plant frost-sensitive plants such as lantana and hibiscus.
  • December in Arizona is a good time to plant fruit trees. Look for varieties that require less than 400 chill hours.

Watering:

  • Water trees and shrubs deeply no more than once every 14-28 days, less often if we get heavy rain. Wateruseitwisely.com is a helpful resource for landscape watering guidelines.
  • Many annual plants are not growing actively and have minimal water needs. Be careful not to over-water this month. Water to a depth of about 6 inches and allow the top of the soil to dry out before watering again.
  • Plants in containers will need less water in December as well. Before watering, check with a moisture meter or make sure the top inch or so of soil has dried out.

Pruning:

  • Do not prune frost-tender plants this month. 
  • It is okay to lightly prune spent flowers and dead canes on your established roses in December. Wait until January to remove spent flowers and dead canes in newly-planted roses.
  • Prune dead branches out of cold-hardy trees and shrubs. December is a good time to prune dormant woody trees and shrubs. See benefits below.

Fertilizing:

  • Do not fertilize this month.

Protect from freezing temperatures (below 32 degrees F.):

  • Have burlap or frost cloth on hand to protect newly-planted citrus and other frost-sensitive plants from frost.
  • Plants in containers are more susceptible to freezing temperatures than those in the ground.

Yard clean-up:

  • Harvest fruit and clean up around fruit trees. Fallen fruit and leaves are inviting for pests.
  • Save all the leaves that are falling from Ash, Vitex, Elm, and other deciduous trees this month. If you planted a winter lawn, the grass clippings combined with fallen leaves are perfect for the compost pile. If you decide not to compost, bag leaves and let them decompose; they will be ready to spread on plants as leaf mulch by spring.

Benefits of pruning woody plants in cool weather:

  1. Pruning in warmer months stimulates new growth; when the plant is dormant, growth is not stimulated by pruning.
  2. Pests that can invade pruning cuts are dormant in cooler weather.
  3. Once leaves have dropped, the tree’s overall shape (scaffold) is easier to see. Spotting crossed or damaged branches is easier.
  4. Wounds made by pruning in winter will heal quickly in the spring.

Arizona Garden in December#gardening #garden #arizonagarden #decembergarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden

Looking for gifts for your favorite Gardener this month? Here are two blog posts with some of my favorites:

Gardener's Gift Guide: Garden Favorites​

Visual planting guides for vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers & vines.


What to plant in the low desert Arizona garden in December


Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit to plant in the low desert in December

(Click the link to read “How to Grow” articles on my website.)

Artichoke (ST)

Arugula (ST)

Asparagus (roots/T)

Beet (ST)

Bok Choy (ST)

Borage (S)

Broccoli (T)

Cabbage (T)

Carrot (S)

Cauliflower (T)

Chamomile (T)

Chives (ST)

Cilantro (S)

Collard Greens (ST)

Comfrey (ST)

Dill (S)

Fava Bean (S)

Fennel (S)

Garbanzo (S)

Garlic Chives (T)

Kale (ST)

Kohlrabi (ST)

Lavender (T)

Leek (T)

Lentil (S)

Lettuce/Endive (ST)

Mustard (ST)

Onion (Bulb) (T)

Onion (Green) (S)

Parsley (S)

Peas (S)

Potato (seed potato)

Radish (S)

Rosemary (T)

Rutabaga (S)

Spinach (ST)

Stevia (T)

Strawberry (T)

Swiss Chard (ST)

Thyme (T)

Turnip (S)

Wheat (S)

SEED, TRANSPLANT, OR BOTH? S = Seed T= Transplant


perpetual HERB, FRUIT & VEGETABLE  planting Calendar for the low desert of Arizona zone 9b
  • PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists vegetables, fruit & herbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
  • HARVEST GUIDE: Photos show what may be ready to harvest that month.
  • Planting dates are for the low desert of Arizona (zone 9b).

Vegetable, herb, and fruit seeds to start indoors during December

(Click the link for seed sources.)


Flowers to plant in the low desert in December

(Click the link to read “How to Grow” articles on my website.)

Ageratum (T)

Alyssum (ST)

Baby’s Breath (ST)

Carnation (T)

Chamomile (T)

Dianthus (T)

English Daisy (T)

Feverfew (T)

Forget-Me-Not (S)

Geranium (T)

Gladiolus (corm)

Lobelia (T)

Nasturtium (S)

Pansies (T)

Petunia (T)

Poppy (S)

Rudbeckia (ST)

Snapdragon (T)

Stock (T)

Strawflower (ST)

Sweet Peas (ST)

SEED, TRANSPLANT, OR BOTH? S = Seed T= Transplant


Flower seeds to start indoors in the low desert in December

(Click the link for seed sources.)


Flowers to Plant Outside & Seeds to Start Indoors Each Month in the Low Desert of Arizona.
• PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists annual flowers and bulbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
• BLOOMING GUIDE: Photos show what may be in bloom that month.


How to grow a vegetable garden in Arizona #arizonagardening #arizonagarden #desertgardening #hotweathergarden #howtogarden

Want more information about gardening in Arizona? This blog post shares 7 tips for  how to grow a vegetable garden in Arizona.


If you enjoyed this post about Arizona gardening in December, please share it:

Robert

Thursday 1st of December 2022

No mention of nicotiana, what information do you have on it?

Angela Judd

Thursday 8th of December 2022

I haven't grown it, and don't know much about it, sorry.

Ruth

Tuesday 1st of December 2020

I have tiny nonflying black bugs in the soil. They are eating all my seedlings. I’ve tried oils and an organic sulfur spray. Nothing seems to get rid of them. Help!

Angela Judd

Tuesday 1st of December 2020

Sorry to hear that. Are they fungus gnats? If so, let the top inch or two of soil dry out. Continuously moist soil keeps the numbers high. You could also set out citrus traps to catch them. Cut citrus in half and put it face down in the soil. The bugs may congregate there and then can be scooped out and disposed of. This article may offer more suggestions. https://growinginthegarden.com/organic-pest-control-that-really-works/