​Frost is on the pumpkins, but gardening tasks continue


November gardening plants

​Don't abandon your gardening tasks just because there's frost on the pumpkins. There's plenty to do outdoors in November, including planting winter annuals. Photo by P. McDaniels, courtesy UTIA.


Frost is on the pumpkins, but the gardening season isn't over yet. Here are some tips from Jason Reeves, horticulturist at the UT Gardens, Jackson, to keep your garden fit:

Shrubs and trees
It's an ideal time to plant or transplant trees, shrubs and fruit crops. Be sure water well and then mulch newly planted plants with a good 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch. Newly planted evergreen plants should be checked regularly during the winter to insure they are getting enough water.
Fall planting crapemyrtles, edgeworthias, loropetalums, hardy gardenias, butterfly bushes and warm season grasses (like muhly grass, Miscanthus, and Pennisetum) can be a gamble if we have a severe winter. If you are a cautious type, you may want to wait until spring to purchase and plant. If you already have them in a pot, then you’re better off to go ahead and plant now. 
Mulch existing trees and shrubs to help reduce weeds, provide insulation from freezing temperatures and to conserve moisture.

Perennials, annuals and bulbs
Reduce peony botrytis blight and hollyhock rust by removing and disposing of all leaves and stems this fall. Roses should have all their leaves raked from beneath to prevent black spot. Dispose of plant materials in the trash, not the compost pile. This will reduce the carryover of disease during the winter and you will have less trouble next year. 
Cut the stems of chrysanthemum and other perennials close to the ground once they have begun to die back. Leave ornamental grasses to provide winter interest until spring.
Transplant perennials throughout the fall and winter, as long as they remain dormant.
Winter annuals such as pansies, violas, Dianthus chinensis, red mustard, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and kale can still be planted. The earlier in the month, the better, so they can get rooted in before colder temperatures hit.
November is the ideal time to plant spring-flowering bulbs. Consider planting some of the minor bulbs such as winter aconite, glory of the snow, narcissus and grape hyacinths.
Mulch flower beds with 3 inches to 4 inches of good compost or fine mulch to keep the soil temperature stable and to prevent winter plant injury from frost heaving. As the compost or fine mulch decomposes, it will enrich your garden soil as well.

Lawn care
It's not too late to fertilize your cool-season fescue lawn. Use a turf fertilizer and follow label directions. This encourages good root development and helps improve the color of the lawn.
Keep heavy layers of leaves raked from the lawn. They should be composted. Alternatively, you can just mow over a light layer of leaves, turning them to a mulch which adds important nutrients back to the lawn.
November is the time for the first herbicide application for wild garlic and wild onion. See the publication
Wild Garlic and Wild Onion for information on herbicides and rates of application.

Fruits and veggies
As soon as leaves fall from fruit trees and berry bushes, spray for the first time with dormant horticultural oil. This helps control overwintering insects and diseases. Apply according to label instructions.
Incorporate compost in the annual and vegetable gardens for next growing season.
Complete removal of fallen leaves and debris to help eliminate overwintering insects and disease organisms.
Cut the tops off asparagus plants and mulch with a good layer of compost. 
Cover strawberries 2 inches deep with hay or straw to reduce weeds and increase winter protection.
Secure raspberry and blackberry canes to stakes to protect them from wind whipping.

Indoor plants
Give houseplants as much light as possible as lower light days begin.
Stop fertilizing indoor plants until spring.
If possible, provide houseplants with increased humidity as levels decrease due to indoor heating.
Begin to increase the time between watering, but do not cut back on the amount of water.
Force bulbs indoors like narcissus, hyacinths and amaryllis for color early in the new year; start paperwhites in late November for Christmas flowering. Keep paperwhites from flopping over by adding alcohol. Cornell University has some great advice online.

For more gardening tips, sign up for the UT Gardens free e-newsletter online at utgardens.tennessee.edu

The UT Gardens
includes plant collections located in Knoxville, Jackson and Crossville. Designated as the official botanical garden for the State of Tennessee, the collections are part of the UT Institute of Agriculture. The gardens’ mission is to foster appreciation, education and stewardship of plants through garden displays, educational programs and research trials. The gardens are open during all seasons and free to the public.



Jason Reeves
, UT West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center, 731-424-1643