Some timely gardening tips from the University of Maryland and our own experts.
Plant those Bulbs
If you haven’t planted your spring-blooming bulbs, like tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths, do it now.
Conifers can be planted or fed in November, but not pruned.
Trees and Shrubs
Yes, you CAN plant trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
Evergreen shrubs and trees can be fed in November, applying granular fertilizer under the tree’s canopy and out 8 to 10 feet from the canopy. Use a fertilizer low in phosphorus. Newly planted and very young trees and shrubs benefit from being fed; established trees rarely need feeding.
Gene Sumi reminds us this is NOT the time to prune evergreens, whether the type with needles or broad leaves. They need their green foliage through the winter.
If you notice interior older leaves yellowing and dropping from rhododendrons and other evergreen shrubs, don’t worry. It’s normal for this time of year.
Mulch should be applied only 2-3 inches deep around ornamental plants and kept away from shrub and tree trunks. Mulch that’s too deep makes a favorable site for voles to tunnel and feed on shrub stems over winter.
After the first hard freeze, usually around mid-November, apply mulch 2-3 inches deep around perennials, surrounding the plant crowns. The freezing and thawing of the soil in winter can cause many perennials to heave; mulching helps moderate temperature fluctuations thus, reducing this problem.
Hardy bananas need little winter protection in our area.
Protect Tender Plants
If you haven’t already brought houseplants indoors, do it right away. You might apply a safe-for-indoor plant insecticide and fungicide to kill plant pests at the time you bring them indoors. Expect tropical and subtropical plants to lose up to 50% of their foliage after they settle in inside the home.
Dig up nonhardy summer bulbs such as cannas, dahlia, gladiolus, caladium or tuberous begonia, and store them indoors for the winter. Click here and scroll down to November for details about how to do this. More hardy bananas usually make it through our winters in the ground, though any newly planted ones should be heavily mulched.
In the Vegetable Garden
This is a good time to incorporate organic matter into garden beds – like composted animal manure or leafmold (chopped-up, aged leaves). Keep beds covered with a mulch, (even just shredded leaves) to minimize the risk of soil erosion and nutrient run-off. These can be tilled into the garden in spring or left in place as a mulch between rows of vegetables.
Spinach, lettuce, arugula, kale, and other cool-season crops should be protected from freezing with a cold frame, plastic sheeting or floating row cover.
Carrots, parsnips, and turnips can be over-wintered by covering the bed with a deep straw or leaf mulch. You can harvest these root crops through the winter as needed.
Herbs brought indoors for fall and winter should be located where they will receive strong direct sunlight (usually supplemental fluorescent light is required – for 14-16 hours each day.