What are the best vegetables to plant in December in Illinois?
Finding the best vegetables to plant in December in Illinois was not as easy as I thought. Some require extensive care, others are prone to pests, and lots are just not simple & quick enough to grow.
That’s why I created a list of the 10 Best Vegetables to Plant in December in Illinois!
This ultimate guide will give you the best vegetables to grow, why you should grow them, and even how to grow them.
Read THIS Before Planting Vegetables in December in Illinois!
Knowing what hardiness zone Illinois is in is critical to understanding the best vegetables that can be grown in December.
It can be the difference between your vegetable garden thriving and providing a bountiful yield or producing nothing.
Illinois is mostly considered Hardiness Zone 5, while some of the lower-level regions are Hardiness Zone 6.
10 Best Vegetables to Plant in December in Illinois
Popular Varieties: Butterhead, Boston, Loose Leaf
Why Plant Lettuce in December in Illinois?
- Lettuce thrives in Illinois’s cooler fall months. Unlike other vegetables, this plant can grow even when there is snow or frost on the ground making it the perfect vegetable to plant in December in Illinois.
- Lettuce may be the easiest vegetable to grow. You do not need to fertilize it, only need to water it once a week, and it can be planted in any soil.
Perfect for ANY Garden:
- Lettuce is perfect for urban gardening and even gardeners with little space. It is great in gardening containers, raised garden beds, and even indoors.
Harvested All Year:
- Lettuce can be harvested all year. The more you harvest lettuce the more it will grow. This is even true in December and early fall months.
THESE Could Harm Your Lettuce
- Deer, Rabbits, & Squirrels LOVE Lettuce. If left unprotected these pests will eat your vegetable before it can even grow.
- You’ll most likely find slugs on your lettuce in December when the weather is cool or wet. If you plant it in the shade where the soil is damp you should expect slugs too.
- While rare in Illinois Fall, this can cause your lettuce to flower and become inedible. Make sure to plant your lettuce in partial shade to avoid this.
Learn How To Grow Lettuce HERE
Popular Varieties: Curly, Lacinato, Red Russian, Ornamental
Why Plant Kale in December in Illinois?
- Kale is the hardiest vegetable when it comes to cold in Illinois. Unlike any other vegetable on this list, Kale can be grown throughout the entire year.
- Kale is the only vegetable on this list that can also be considered an ornamental plant. This means it can add color, features, and beauty to any type of garden.
Perfect in Pots:
- If there is any vegetable that can be grown in gardening pots in Illinois, it’s Kale. This is one of the most adaptive vegetables, making it perfect for beginner gardeners in Illinois.
THESE Could Harm Your Lettuce
- Like many other vegetables, aphids are one insect you don’t want. Aphids are especially prevalent in Illinois and can stunt or kill your kale.
- Like lettuce Kale does not tolerate extreme heat. After just a week in temperatures over 90 degrees, Fahrenheit and direct sunlight Kale can flower and become inedible.
Learn How To Grow Kale HERE
Popular Varieties: Snow peas, sugar snap, english peas
Why Plant Peas in December in Illinois?
Thrives in Cold:
- While some vegetables are cold-hardy, Peas thrive in Illinois’s cold fall weather. If you want the tastiest peas you should grow them in late fall or early winter.
Great for Vertical Gardening:
- Peas are one of the few vegetables that are perfect for vertical gardening. Vertical Gardening is popular in the cities of Illinois and even in the suburbs where land for horizontal growing is scarce.
Perfect in Raised Garden Beds:
- Peas do not need much room. They also grow great among other vegetables and plants. This makes it perfect for raised garden beds, which is one of the most popular techniques of gardening in Illinois.
THESE Could Harm Your Peas
- Deer, Rabbits, & Squirrels LOVE start to come out and become hungry in spring. One of the first plants they eat is peas. Whether protected or unprotected pests pose a risk to growing peas in Illinois.
Any temperature but cold:
- While most vegetables grow in Illinois’s summer heat, peas cannot. Any temperature, but cold will pose a risk to growth & tastiness.
Learn How to Grow Peas HERE
Popular Varieties: Pepo, Moschata, Maxima
Why Plant Pumpkins in December in Illinois?
Great Ground Cover:
- Not only are pumpkins great plants to sell, but they are perfect ground cover. This means less maintenance and works for you and more time working on making more money selling your vegetables.
- Pumpkins are a form of squash. There are orange, white, and green pumpkins you can sell. Not only this, but you can sell other forms of squash, including spaghetti, acorn, and so much more!
THESE Could Harm Your Pumpkins
- People love pumpkins. Pests do too. While your pumpkin plant is growing and flowering the biggest threat is pests. Deer, Rabbits, and other small animals can quickly destroy your crop.
Learn why Pumpkins are one of the BEST Vegetables to Grow in Illinois HERE.
Popular Varieties: Zucchini, Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti
Why Plant Squash in December in Illinois?
Thrives in the heat & cold:
- Squash is one of the most versatile vegetables. Some varieties can be grown in cold weather, some can be grown in warmer weather, and some are perfect to be grown in both types of weather. This makes it ideal for planting and growing in the fall.
Provides All-Fall Harvest:
- Squash is one of the few vegetables that you will harvest from as early as fall to early winter if planted right. This means you will be able to enjoy or store it all year long.
- Squash may be the best vegetable on this list to help to cross-pollinate other vegetables in the fall. Plant squash next to tomatoes, beans, carrots, and cucumbers for even more vegetables.
THESE Could Harm Your Squash
Birds, Squirrels, Rabbits, & Chipmunks:
- These pests will generally not harm your actual squash vegetables. What they will do though is immediately eat squash flowers if you do not protect them with netting or rodent spray.
- This is a little different than other vegetables. Squash requires lots of room to grow. If you try growing it in gardening pots, raised garden beds, or small gardens there is a chance that it will take over other vegetables or just not produce the harvest you want.
Learn How to Grow squash HERE
Popular Varieties: Purple Vienna, Kossak, Azur Star
Why Plant Kohlrabi in December in Illinois?
Thrives in the heat & cold:
- Kohlrabi is another vegetable that will thrive in Fall weather that is hot but is also perfect for cooler to cold fall and early winter. You can harvest carrots even after the ground has frosted over.
Lots & Lots of Harvest:
- Kohlrabi is one of the few vegetables that you can harvest from late summer to early winter. This means you will be able to enjoy it all year long.
Perfect for Small Spaces:
- The wonderful thing about carrots is that it is a vegetable that is perfect for small spaces. You can plant a lot of kohlrabit seeds in a very small space.
THESE Could Harm Your Kohlrabi
- One of the factors that can harm your carrots is soil. If you do not have loamy, sandy soil there is a chance your kohlrabi won’t properly grow or grow at all.
- Pests such as rabbits and squirrels love kohlrabi plants. These pests will generally not harm your actual kohlrabi vegetables. What they will do though is immediately eat carrot leaves if you do not protect them with netting or rodent spray.
Did you know Kohlrabi is fast becoming one of America’s favorite vegetables to eat no matter what time of year it is?
Popular Varieties: Flat, Savoy, Semi-Savoy
Why Plant Spinach in December in Illinois?
- Spinach thrives in Illinois’s cooler fall months. Unlike other vegetables, this plant can grow even when there is snow or frost on the ground.
Perfect for Gardening Pots:
- Spinach is one of the few vegetables that can be grown any time of the year in pots. No matter what the weather is like you can grow spinach in gardening pots on your deck, patio, or raised garden bed and enjoy this nutritional vegetable in the fall.
THESE Could Harm Your Spinach
- Like lettuce, collard greens, and kale pests love spinach. They will particularly feast on spinach in the fall months when food and vegetation start to become scarce.
Learn How to Grow Spinach HERE
#8. Green Beans
Popular Varieties: Bush & Pole
Why Plant Green Beans in December in Illinois?
Thrives in Droughts:
- Unlike other vegetables, Green Beans do not require a lot of water to grow, flower, and bloom into a crop that can be harvested more than once. This is great for the unusually dry summers.
Great for Vertical Gardening:
- If you want a vegetable that grows up a pole then no look further than the pole green beans. This green bean was created specifically for vertical gardening making it perfect to grow in fall above the cold ground.
THESE Could Harm Your Green Beans
- Green Beans are one of the few vegetables that require constant insect control. Insects can quickly destroy your green beans’ leaves before flowers grow and can destroy the vegetable itself if not properly cared for.
- If the weather drops to freezing before green beans form expect your green beans to not grow, become stunted, and potentially even die. This means you should grow your vegetable well after the last frost.
Learn How to Grow Green Beans HERE
Popular Varieties: French, Tarzan, Stela
Why Plant Radishes in December in Illinois?
Thrives in Droughts:
- Like Carrots and other root crops, Radishes require little water, sunlight, and even pest care. This makes it great for full-sun and partial-sun garden areas.
- Radishes are one of the few vegetables that can survive temperatures slightly below frost. This means you can plant, grow, and harvest your radishes in the early or late fall!
THESE Could Harm Your Radishes
- Almost all of the vegetables on this can grow in any type of soil. The one exception is radishes. Radishes need loamy and small particle soil. If it is planted in clay soil it will not grow at all.
The biggest tip I have when growing Radishes in Illinois is to give your vegetable enough space. Most gardeners plant radishes or radish seeds too close to one another, inhibiting the size and flavor of your vegetable.
Popular Varieties: Green and Purple
Why Plant Cabbages in December in Illinois?
- Cabbage thrives in wet, cool conditions. The more water it gets the better and most delicious it will taste. Fall is the perfect time to not only grow but also harvest cabbage.
- This may be one of the most underrated factors for growing cabbage in Illinois. There are a handful of types of cabbage, all of which can be grown throughout fall.
THESE Could Harm Your Cabbage
This may seem strange, but the gardener is most prone to harm your cabbage. Most gardeners will harvest cabbage either when it is too hard or too soft. Not only this, but gardeners tend to overfertilize cabbage causing too big of an inedible plant.
The biggest tip for growing eggplant is not to fertilize them. Fertilizing will cause your eggplants to become too large and too hard, sacrificing the taste and color of your vegetable.
Common Growing Factors of Illinois’s Best Vegetables to Plant in December
As a reminder, the below factors are common for the Best Vegetables to Plant in December in Illinois:
- Thrives in Heat & Drought
- Thrives in Cold
- Can Grow in Vertical Gardens
- Hardy against Pests & Insects
- Can be planted in ALL Types of Garden
- Great Cross-Pollinator