November is another good month for planting and continued fall maintenance. Here’s a good breakdown of what to target:
Week 1
• Cut a few stems of holly with berries for making Christmas garlands. It’s early, but now’s the time to do it, before the birds eat all the berries. Stand them in a bucket of water in a sheltered spot where birds can’t take them.
• Fall is for planting — trees, shrubs, bulbs, grass seed, mums, asters, pansies and the list goes on. The cooler temperatures, and more plentiful rainfall makes fall a wonderful time to plant. An added benefit to fall planting is that it gives you a head start for next spring. Plants that are planted in the fall will be all settled in and ready to grow when the ground thaws and temperatures warm up next spring.
Week 2
• Plant daffodil and other spring flowering bulbs until the ground freezes. They will provide welcome color early next spring. Drifts of a dozen or more bulbs of one variety make the most impact.
Planting depth is normally three times the height of the bulb and be sure to space the bulbs properly. Espoma Bulb Tone should be incorporated in the soil below the bulbs.
• Before the first anticipated hard freeze be sure to water all your trees and shrubs, including bulbs and perennial beds. You will need to provide at least an inch of rain per week, remember: if the sky doesn’t provide the rain you need to water!
Allowing the soil to completely dry out will provide no moisture protection for the roots of your trees and shrubs when the ground freezes.
Remember just because the air temperatures are cooler, the ground temperatures will sometimes remain warmer longer. Watering is a must!
Week 3
• After Nov. 15 you can begin pruning deciduous trees and shrubs. Begin by first removing all dead branches, stumps on scaffold limbs, and rubbing or wounded branches. After this step you can prune for plant form.
The direction of new growth can be influenced by pruning off undesirable growth just above a bud that is placed on the stem in a direction you want the new growth to go.
• Mulching is one of the best lines of defense for plants against chilling temperatures.
Mulching also can prevent the repeated freezing and thawing of soil that causes plants to “heave” out of the ground. But the trick is not to mulch too soon. Mulching needs to be done after the ground starts to freeze, but before the first significant snowfall of the year. If you mulch sooner, plants may not go completely dormant.
In general, the end of November is a good time to apply mulch here in the Pittsburgh area. Apply a layer at least three to four inches thick around each plant.
After you laid it down, gently pull it away from the trunks and stems to give plants room to breathe.
This helps prevent disease problems.
Week 4
• For all evergreens, camellias, rhododendron, azaleas, viburnum, and even roses, consider using Wilt-Pruf. This product will seal in the moisture and help protect the plant from winter’s bitter drying winds and protect the crown of newly planted shrubs when freezing and thawing cycles occur.
One application will be enough for the winter season.
• Every weed you pull now will be many less to have to pull in spring. So weed, especially perennial weeds. I know, you thought you were done with weeding. But pulling those weeds now, when the conditions are good, will cut down on problems in the spring.
(Editor’s Note: Ken Morgan is the owner of Robin’s Nest Floral and Garden Center in Easton, Md.)