You are here: Month to Month Tips > November
In Your Garden
We've said it all summer and fall, and we'll say it again: keep on watering, especially any shrubs or perennials planted or moved this year. Plants need at least an inch of water a week, and they're still not getting that if you're not supplying it.
Planting trees or shrubs this fall? Try adding beneficial mycorrhizal fungi to your planting hole with Mycor Tree Saver or Mycor Flower Saver. Mycorrhizal fungi are the good guys of the fungal world. According to an article in the July/August 1998 issue of The American Gardener, these microorganisms colonize the fine roots of plants, extending threadlike feeding structures into the soil. These root-like feeders act as extensions of the plant's own roots, helping the plant get water and food. In exchange, the fungi get sugars manufactured by the plant. There is evidence that micorrhizae help plants survive stresses from drought and high soil temperatures, and even protect them from certain soil diseases. These fungi exist in great numbers in natural environments, but have often been stripped away in the course of modern construction, and gardening practices such as use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Mycor Flower Saver contains beneficial microrrhizal fungi as well as beneficial bacteria and organic stimulants that improve perennials, herbs and garden vegetables. In addition to beneficial micorrhizal fungi, Mycor Tree Saver includes water absorbent hydrogels and organic soil conditioners that help get trees and shrubs off to a good start. Both products are granules that are added to the planting hole at planting time. They are not recommended for use as a top dressing in established beds.
If you haven't planted bulbs of daffodils, tulips, or other spring flowers, there's still time to do it. Most bulbs need at least a half day of sun, but don't despair if your yard is shaded by deciduous trees. Early spring bulbs do most of their growing before the trees leaf out, so areas that are shady most of the spring and summer may be fine for spring-flowering bulbs. Bulbs like well drained soil, like most other plants, so work ClayAway or compost into heavy soils to break them up.
If you do nothing else, plant some crocuses, glory in the snow (chionodoxia) or snowdrops (galanthus) where you can see them easily. They come up just when you despair of winter ever being over.
As a rule of thumb, plant bulbs about 3 times as deep as their height (i.e., plant 2" bulb 6 inches deep. Fertilize with Holland Bulb Booster, Bulb Tone, or Country Cottage Bulb Fertilizer when you plant, then every year at around this time.
If you have a problem with squirrels digging up your bulbs, try one or more of these strategies: plant bulbs a couple of inches deeper than the standard recommendation; spray bulbs with Ropel before planting them; place a layer of crushed oyster shells a few inches above the bulbs when planting them; lay chicken wire or a similar wire barrier over the bulbs on the top of the soil or pot. (We sell Ropel and crushed oyster shells; wire barriers are available at home supply stores.)
If the weather stays warm enough for pansies to bloom continue feeding with MiracleGro or a similar fertilizer through the end of November. Deadhead pansies (pinch off spent flowers) to keep them blooming. Don't pull them out when they stop flowering (although you can cut them back if they're leggy). They will usually revive in early spring to bloom again.
In addition to pansies, there's still time to plant ornamental cabbage and kale. These plants color up in cooler weather, so they're just beginning to look good, and should last into December or January. When planting, remove any yellowing lower leaves and plant so the bottom leaves are flush with the ground.
Label bulbs and perennials, especially ones that were planted this year, with plastic tags. You'll appreciate this effort next spring as you watch expectantly for new growth to emerge. Labels that remind you what's planted where will help you identify new growth and prevent you from accidently digging up plants that are late to break dormancy.
After the first killing frost, cut back blackened leaves and stems of perennials, pull annuals and neaten the garden for the winter. Rake and discard leaves from any trees, shrubs or flowers which suffered serious fungal outbreaks this year (such as black spot, leaf spot or powdery mildew). Do not put them in the compost pile. Cleaning up the leaves and getting rid of them will help prevent outbreaks next year, since spores can overwinter and reinfect new foliage when it emerges next spring. Candidates include roses, dogwoods, photinia, phlox, beebalm and peonies.
In Your Home
Paper whites will add cheerful blooms and a lovely fragrance to your home throughout the fall and winter. You can plant them anytime - expect them to bloom about 4-6 weeks later. Start new ones every two weeks for a continuous display. Choose one of the three we are carrying this year, or mix and match them: Grand Soleil d'Or, a bright yellow with a darker cup; Omri, creamy yellow with a sulphur yellow cup; and Ziva, pure white.
Planting them is as easy as 1-2-3. All you need is a bowl, pebbles or marbles, and bulbs. (You can also use a pot and potting soil in place of the bowl and pebbles). 1. Put some pebbles in the bottom of the bowl. 2. Place bulbs pointed side up on the pebbles. 3. Add enough water to keep the root end of the bulbs moist. Plants should flower in 4-6 weeks.
Plant amaryllis now for gorgeous flowers in January and February. All you need is a pot that's a couple of inches wider than the bulb and some potting soil. Plant the bulb in the pot so that about half of it is beneath the soil and half stays above. Wet the soil and place in a warm spot with low light until growth begins. (A dark corner near the furnace or on top of a water heater works well.) When a leaf starts to grow out the top, it's time to move your plant to a warm, sunny spot. Water with a mild fertilizer solution, such as MiracleGro, when the soil starts to feel dry on top. Plant should flower in 10-12 weeks from planting, sometimes sooner.