What (not) to plant in December

a Great Tit sitting on a snow-covered branch

We have to be honest, December isn’t a great time for planting much in the ground as it’s often too cold and certainly there’s not much daylight around for anything to get established.  Anything that you can buy commercially that’s in flower or growing at this time of year will probably have been brought on by the grower using additional heat and light to spring it into action.  Most of us don’t have those sorts of resources to hand!

If you do want to be thinking about plants at this time of year, we have three alternative suggestions.  Firstly, there are a few seeds you could be sowing now.  Many will do just as well – or even better – if you wait until January but, if you have somewhere to keep them protected once they have germinated, why not give it a try?  See our tips below.  Secondly, now is a great time to plan your planting for next year and for buying seeds ready to sow in the new year.  Finally, why not focus on houseplants?  Most gardeners tend to focus on what we’re growing outdoors so now is a great time of year to think about what we have in the house.  And we have just refreshed our stocks of houseplants in Centre if you fancy something new.  Take a look at some of our plant highlights here.

Sowing seeds

Did you know that Boxing Day is traditionally the day to sow onion seeds, indoors of course?  You’ll notice that’s seeds, not onion sets, though.  And they are not the only thing you can get a head start on.  Hambrooks have over 200 varieties of vegetable, herb and flower seeds in stock, so here is our (short) guide to what you can happily sow now.  (Check our seed sowing calendars for flowers, herbs and vegetables here.)

Broad beans

November is a great time to sow broad beans but you can still sow them in December if you like.  Sown now, early broad bean crops can be harvested as early as May next year.  If it’s still mild, sow them directly in the soil now.  They should germinate and start growing but will stop and become dormant if we get a cold spell.  This is normal and they will start growing again when temperatures rise again in the spring. 

Read our article about growing broad beans here.

broad beans and their pods, freshly picked
Lettuce, including Lamb’s Lettuce

Some cultivars of lettuce have been bred for their ability to germinate and grow at low temperatures, potentially providing a salad harvest all year round.  ‘Winter Gem’ is one example.  Lamb’s Lettuce isn’t actually a lettuce at all, just a leafy green, but it’s naturally suited to growing and cropping in the winter and is a ‘cut and come again’ variety.  You can sow lettuce seeds in pots in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame now.

juicy green Lamb's letture
Sweet Peas

Some gardeners are fans of sowing sweet peas early but it doesn’t suit everyone.  If you’re going to give it a try, make sure you have somewhere frost-free to keep them once they have started growing as all those juicy roots and leggy top growth will be very susceptible to the cold.  They also like a good root run so one seed in the top of a kitchen-roll inner tube full of compost should see them through the winter with minimal root disturbance when it’s time to plant them out.

fragrant sweet pea flowers

For other jobs you can be doing in your garden this month, try these suggestions.




N. Haggard 20 September 2022

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how delighted I am with my new garden.

Jon, my designer, listened to my ideas and delivered on everything I asked for. I wanted something different to any garden I’d had before, no lawn, no landscaping but packed with plants. He designed such a lovely secret garden, around a statement tree. And I have to commend him for his unwavering patience! I changed my mind a hundred times but never did he give me the impression that he was losing patience with my endless indecision. And my confidence in him led me to place an order for over £10k.

My landscaping team, Blade and Tony, were exceptional, from their work ethic, skill and knowledge, to the way they dealt with me, the customer. My standards are very high and I couldn’t fault them.

All in all, a very professional team of people. And it showed that they all care. I’m over the moon with the finished result. I will send you a before and after photo. Thank you so much.

A delighted customer.

G. Gray. May 2022

My front garden has been transformed by Andy and Bradley who both worked incredibly hard and I am delighted with the result. Andy had the vision and skill to turn my idea into reality and I can't thank him enough.

C. Haig Sept 2021

We recently had our garden landscaped by Hambrooks and I just wanted to pass on my thanks, not just for the outcome - which is superb - but for the professionalism of all the staff involved on the job who are all a credit to you company. Mike, Dave, Les and Adam.

H. Sharp Sept 2021

I just wanted to let you know how delighted I am with my new garden. Melanie was a delight to work with and the ideas she had have worked perfectly. Also Sheldon laid the patio beautifully and him and Dave were a pleaseure to have at my house. Quiet workers and polite.

B. Rendell April 2021

I would like to say how delighted we are with the work carried out. Mel, Paul and Tony all worked very hard, they totally took on board the specific need relating to safety as well as the general garden issues. Paul and Tony were excellent at consulting and discussing with me what I felt best in terms of the brief and adjusting if and as necessary, constantly pleasant and polite to deal with. Mel had picked up on particular issues from the first consultation and offered valuable advice. The outcome means a great deal less worry for me going forward.
Altogether a very positive experience and outcome which I would not hesitate to recommend to others.

Stephen March 2021

Dom and Adam's work (garden maintenance) is greatly appreciated. Dom really listened to everything we discussed very carefully and went out of his way to understand and then act upon that discussion. We are extremely pleased with the work done - both to the pond and pyracantha.


We have been coming to Hambrooks for years and it's our favourite garden centre because of its friendly helpful staff and a great selection of plants and trees and the garden design ideas.

“We wanted to write and say how pleased we are with our low maintenance garden makeover. We are very impressed with the attitude of your staff who were prepared to listen to our requirements. Your team John and Rick brushed up and left everything tidy at the end of the day. We now have a garden we can manage and it looks great. THANK YOU HAMBROOKS.”

Mr & Mrs Venables, Southampton. April 2019

“Dear Josh & Mike We just want to say you both did a brilliant job of designing our garden along with the guys who did the work who were amazing. A few weeks on its looks even better now some of the plants are blooming. Thank you!!”

Mr & Mrs Gazzard, Winchester July 2019

“To James, John & Rikki. Thank you so much, we are delighted with our new garden. We really appreciate the attention to detail, the high quality workmanship and the standard of the finished project. We are amazed at how John & Rikki resolved the difficulties of the site and by the quality of their craftmanship. It was a pleasure to work with them and thank you for making our ideas into something we will enjoy for years to come.”