What to sow in December – the plants to start growing now in your garden and greenhouse

What to sow in your garden in December to get a head start on the growing season

Sweet peas growing and blooming through a rustic wooden fence
(Image credit: Future PLC/Camilla Reynolds)

When it comes to growing and harvesting in your garden, December is a rather quiet month. But there are still crops that can be sown in this chilly winter month as long as you know just what to sow in December.

From plants and flowers to the best fruit and vegetables to grow in December, there are in fact several early sowing opportunities during this month to get a head start on the growing season. While some can be sown straight into the ground outside, others are better off in the warmer environment of a greenhouse.

So we rounded up 8 of the best crops to sow in the month of December as approved by gardening experts, along with tips and recommendations to set you up for growing success.

A winter garden with a bird feeder

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

What to sow in December

Some vegetables are best sown in October, while other plants are hardy enough to endure the frostiness of December. So picking the right kind is the key to success here.

‘Before gardeners decide what to sow in December, it’s important to note that this practice can be a bit challenging during this month depending on the climate and region they live in because the harsh winter conditions are prevalent in many areas,’ says Petar Ivanov, gardening expert at Fantastic Gardeners. ‘However, despite that, there are still some plant varieties that thrive when sown during this time of the year and help gardeners plan ahead.’

And here they are.

Petar Ivanov portrait
Petar Ivanov

Petar Ivanov is one of the company's top-performing experts and manages over six teams of gardeners, delivering stunning landscape results and fostering a deep connection with nature through his work.

A snow-covered garden with a cottage

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

1. Broad beans

Incidentally, broad beans are also among the best vegetables to sow in November as this crop is an easy-going one that’s not difficult to grow.

‘Broad beans are easy to grow, and can be planted either indoors, or outdoors (with a cover) during winter as they can withstand cool temperatures,’ says Jack Sutcliffe, gardening expert and co-founder of Power Sheds. ‘It’s important when planting outside to warm up the soil, by covering it with polythene to help germination as well as checking if they need support throughout. As the weather warms up, you’ll begin to see a growth spurt.’ 

Steve Chilton, garden expert and director at LeisureBench, continues, ‘I recommend choosing a hardy variety like Aquadulce Claudia or The Sutton as these cultivars are known for better sustaining the colder temperatures. If conditions are mild you will be able to sow your broad beans directly into the ground, but make sure to use cloches or fleece for protection. During particularly harsh winters sow your broad beans in pots and place them undercover for the best results.’

Where to buy broad bean seeds:

Steve Chilton portrait
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field. As the director of LeisureBench, an industry-leading garden furniture company, Steve has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. 

A winter garden behind a fence

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

2. Sweet peas

Sweet peas growing and blooming through a rustic wooden fence

(Image credit: Getty Images)

According to Monty Don, October is the best time to sow sweet peas. But according to our experts, December is still a suitable time to start growing these pretty florals.

‘I recommend sowing sweet peas during December to ensure your plants are sturdier and more robust to weathering once grown,’ Steve explains. ‘This will also help to provide life throughout your garden during the early spring. Although sweet peas are a particularly hardy variety they will still require some protection throughout the winter frost, so ensure you are planting them in cold frames.’

Where to buy sweet pea seeds:

3. Winter gem lettuce

Salad is one of the easiest vegetables to grow all year round. But there is a particular hardy variety called the winter gem lettuce which is very good at withstanding low temperatures. But even so they thrive the most in a greenhouse or a cold frame.

‘Winter Gem lettuce is a hardy variety making it ideal to be sown in low temperatures throughout December. You should ensure these seeds are sown in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame for protection, as frost, rain and snow can stunt their growth. For growing in a greenhouse I recommend sowing the seeds directly into a grow bag and using a sprinkling of fertiliser to ensure optimal growth of your winter gem lettuce,’ Steve advises.

Where to buy winter gem lettuce seeds:

4. Daffodils

Winter Narcissi: Narcissus papyraceus 'Ziva' / paperwhite daffodil bulbs on top of antique books.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

And sweet peas are not the only flowers to start getting ready in December to decorate your garden come spring. Daffodils are also perfect for this time of year.

‘The best flowering bulbs to sow in December are daffodils. December is actually the ideal time for them. Plant them in well-draining soil and they’ll give a garden plenty of colour when spring arrives,’ Petar says.

Where to buy daffodil bulbs:

5. Spinach and kale

Kale plant growing in ground

(Image credit: Getty)

Also known as winter vegetables or winter greens, spinach and kale are hardy leaves that brave the winter temps.

‘Winter vegetables include greens like spinach and kale. Spinach is a cold-tolerant leafy green that can withstand winter temperatures and sowing it in December results in an early spring harvest when the temperatures begin to rise. Similar to spinach, kale is also a hardy winter vegetable that benefits from a December sowing, that’s rich in nutrients and can endure colder weather,’ Petar says.

Where to buy spinach and kale seeds:

6. Tulips

A selection of tulip bulbs

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Similarly to daffodils, tulips are also the perfect bulb to plant in December to flower in time for spring. And with an even more varied colour palette available, we can't see why this sowing opportunity should be passed up.

Where to buy tulip bulbs:

7. Garlic

Garlic sprouts growing in pots

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Are you looking for ways how to grow garlic? Sowing it even in the middle of December will do the trick, even though it’s best to do so before Christmas.

‘You can also sow garlic, which can actually be planted at any time between the middle of autumn and later in the winter season. However, it produces the best harvest if it’s sowed before Christmas and traditionally, it’s done during the shortest day of the year,’ Petar explains.

Where to buy garlic bulbs:

8. Herbs

growing herbs with chives and coriander laeves

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Bevan)

Some herbs are hardier than they look and therefore can withstand the cold temperatures of December. These include parsley, chives, basil and dill.

‘Some hardy herbs that can be sown in winter include parsley and chives,’ Petar says. ‘Parsley is an herb that can be sown in December because it’s frost-tolerant and can add fresh flavours to many dishes even during the winter months. Chives are also cold-resistant herbs that can be sown in December and they add a mild onion flavour and are excellent for indoor cultivation. Basil and dill are other herbs that can be sown, but it’ll be best if you do that indoors in containers.’

Where to buy parsley and chive seeds:

FAQs

What bulbs can I sow in December?

The best bulbs to be planted in December are daffodils and tulips, which will inject plenty of colour into your garden come spring.

What can I plant in December outside?

Garlic, tulips, daffodils, spinach, kale and broad beans are all crops that can be planted directly into the soil outside in December.

Bottom line is choose your plants well and lend them a helping hand wherever possible as December is a stressful time. Happy December sowing!

News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home decor and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.