Timely Tips: November 2014

clock_LGPlant: Cool-season annuals, including pansies, pinks, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and kale. Daffodils and grape hyacinths as you buy them. Tulips and Dutch hyacinths should be chilled at 45 degrees for 45 days prior to planting in mid-December through early January. Watch for end-of-season markdown on plants in your favorite local nurseries. Most plants can be set out now, but wait until spring to plant types known to be winter-tender in your area. Dig and transplant established landscape trees and shrubs, as well as native plants, after first freeze.

Prune: Winter pruning can begin as soon as plants have lost their leaves, although major pruning of fruit trees is better done toward end of winter. The morning after banana plants have frozen to the ground, remove the dead stubble and mulch over the crowns with tree leaves. Cover the leaves with burlap pegged to the ground to hold them in place against winter winds. Wait until February to prune bush roses, although you can reshape them gently now to remove errant branches that are in the way. Immediately remove any that are infested with Rose Rosette Virus (unusually thorny stems, clubby new growth and poor flower development). There is no spray to eliminate RRV, and afflicted plants will allow the microscopic mite that is the disease vector to spread it over the neighborhood.

Fertilize: Gradually wean patio plants from nutrients as you prepare to bring the pots indoors for the winter. Let their growth slow. Establish new annual color plants such as pansies with water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer applied as you water.

On the Lookout: Use a broadleafed weedkiller spray (containing 2,4-D) to control existing henbit, chickweed, dandelions and clover, among others. Make this treatment late in month, so all weeds will have germinated and be growing. Apply tender houseplant insecticide to eliminate any invaders on plants before bringing them inside.

Odd Jobs: Do not leave hoses attached to faucets during freezing weather. If you do, faucet parts will freeze and burst within the walls. Wrap exposed faucets, especially those that are away from the house. Cut frost cloth (available from nurseries, hardware stores or online) into sizes to fit tender plants in your landscape. Do so before extreme cold rolls in. Label, fold and store the pieces in plastic bags until time of need. Take mower, other power equipment in for repairs ahead of spring rush. Store tools for winter. Oil handles of hand tools. Run motors until they are out of gasoline, so it can’t become gummy over winter.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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