Special thanks to Sharyn Caudell, Durham’s “Gardener-to-Go” for this article. Sharyn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
November is still a great month for planting perennials, trees and shrubs. Their roots grow all winter and get a head start for next growing season. Remember, newly planted plants need to be watered frequently for the first two weeks and once a week for the first year. Soils now stay moister than in the summer so don’t flood your plants. Of course, if we get rain, the soils will stay moist and you don’t need to water.
You can start planting spring bulbs now. A few hours with a trowel and bulbs equals glorious daffodils and hyacinths and summer snowflakes next spring. You may have noticed that I didn’t mention tulips. Most tulips are a 1-3 years bulb in our area (if the deer don’t eat them first). There are small species tulips that will grow for years in the South. McClure and Zimmerman Bulb Company has a tulips for the Deep South collection. If you plant peonies now, remember to only plant the tuber 1-1.5” under the soil surface (measure this one). If peonies are planted too deeply, they will have lovely leaves and no flowers. Don’t forget the pansies and ornamental cabbages for some winter color.
November is the month to fertilize your fescue lawn. The preference is a slow release, organic fertilizer. This will provide the nutrients for good grass and encourage a healthy soil and the ‘good guys’ — earthworms!
Since it isn’t blazing hot, you can empty the compost and spread it around the garden or apply a light layer of mulch. It’s much easier to be motivated with the wheelbarrow when the temperature is in the 50’s.
On those warm sunny days, it’s a great time to weed. I know, you were thinking weeding was over until next spring. The winter weeds such as chickweed, oxalis, mouse-ear cress and others thrive during the winter. They don’t set seed until spring so anytime you weed, you are reducing the number of weeds next year. The old gardening adage is “one year’s weeding equals seven years’ seeding”. I think that is an underestimate with chickweed.
The cold months are a good time to prune large trees such as oaks. The incidence of disease is much less during the cold weather. Don’t prune your spring flowering shrubs now because you’ll remove the flower buds. Leave your evergreens alone until warm weather. You don’t want them to flush new growth that will die in the winter.
If none of these ideas fit your idea of November gardening, then have a nice cup of coffee, wander around your garden and plan for next year.