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David Daehnke
United States

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Gardening Tips for November and December


November Gardening Tips

· Finish planting tulips, at least in the northern part of the country.

· All classes of rose bushes can be set out in the next few weeks. Plant them with the “knuckle” an inch or two below the ground. Protect the roots from drying before planting, and water well once they are planted.

· Work a trowel full of bone meal around old rose bushes before they are covered for the winter.

· After the hardy chrysanthemums are through flowering, most gardeners cut them back to within a few inches of the ground, but you can also leave them standing for winter interest.

· Plant paper white narcissi about November 15 for bloom on Christmas Day. If there is not much sunshine in their growing location, they will bloom later.

· You can put a little covering on the perennial beds if the ground freezes hard. If the ground is not frozen, wait until December.

· Clean away all dead foliage from around the rose bushes and hill the soil around tender types such as hybrid teas and polyanthas.

· Hyacinths to be forced should be potted by the end of November. Be sure that the soil is well soaked before they go into the cellar; otherwise the roots will not start to grow. An occasional watering may be needed, so keep a watchful eye on them.

· Clean all foliage from around peonies and delphiniums where disease has been present to help prevent the disease from reoccurring next year.

· Garden ferns are readily divided and transplanted at this time of year.

· Lift tender summer perennials from the garden and store in peat moss in the cellar.

· For successional tulip blooms next spring, you can plant the bulbs at different levels in the soil.

· The flavor of parsnips is improved by letting the roots stay in the ground until spring.

· A surface application of composted cow manure around rhubarb will help keep older plants producing.

· The vegetable garden should be turned over in the fall, especially before a cold night, to freeze any hibernating insects.

· The strawberry bed should be covered with straw, pine needles, or peat moss once the ground has frozen.

· Raspberry plantings will also benefit from an application of composted cow manure at this time.

· Clean up all diseased and insect infested foliage and fruit from the garden to prevent further spread next year.

· There is still time to move and set out deciduous trees and shrubs, but it is too late for evergreens.

· On warm days, give another thorough soaking to rhododendrons and newly set evergreens.

· Remember that evergreens will still lose moisture during the winter months from those evergreen leaves. An application of an anti-desiccant will help slow this down.

· Do not allow your lawn to go into winter with too much top growth. Two inches is plenty; more can facilitate such diseases as pink and gray snow mold (Fusarium nivale and Typhula incarnata).

· Get cold frames ready now so they can be started first thing in spring.

· It is a good idea to check your mower before setting it to rest for the winter. Clean the underside of the deck, sharpen the blade, and change the oil and air filter. In spring change the spark plug (making sure the gap is correct) and you will be ready for the first cut of the new growing season.

· Store garden furniture and clean all tools of soil and plant material. Coat all metal parts with a light coating of oil to keep them from rusting.

December Gardening Tips

· Amaryllis bulbs may be started now. If they are established bulbs in old pots, two inches of soil should be removed from the surface and replaced with a good, rich mixture.

· Make sure the pots of forcing bulbs are full of roots before moving into sunlight, and make sure they are watered adequately for the best display.

· Covering materials can be added to the perennial bed once the ground is frozen.

· If you have brought in geraniums for winter color, they must be placed in a window that receives direct sunlight all day and a daytime temperature of 70 to 75 degrees is maintained. Keep in mind geraniums do not like to be over watered.

· Never apply water to houseplants late in the afternoon. The foliage should not be wet when night comes.

· Be sure that all garden refuse that may contain any insects or disease is disposed of in the garbage and not the compost pile.

· After each heavy snowfall, one should tamp the snow around the young fruit trees to protect them from mice, which work under the snow.

· Newly planted evergreens should have the protection of a windbreak or anti-desiccant to protect from moisture loss.

· If the ground is not frozen, newly planted evergreens should again have a thorough soaking of water.

· Make sure that all bird feeding equipment is out and well stocked for the winter months.

· Remember to set out your Christmas tree when the season is over for winter protection for the birds.

If you have a particular question you would like the Gardening Guru to answer, e-mail me at, or check to see if your question has already been asked on the Question and Answer Message Board. Good Luck!


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