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Cleaning Pots and Other November Gardening Tips

By Donna Dawson
11/7/2013 11:19:25 AM

Removing soil from outdoor pots and cleaning them, raking up leaves from under rose bushes and wrapping newly planted trees are some of the gardening activities for this month, and Leonard Perry has some tips for you!

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Empty the soil from any clay or ceramic pots that you keep outside or in a cold location during the winter. If not, the soil will freeze and expand and, most likely, crack the pot. Keep the soil to use to fill the bottoms of large planters next year. That way you won't need as much fresh soil.

Rose foliage can harbor insects and diseases, both on the shrub and on the ground. Pull off any rose leaves that are still hanging on, rake up fallen leaves and bury them all away from the garden or dispose of them in the trash.

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Once the ground begins to freeze, it's time to protect hybrid roses from winter's wind and cold. The simplest method is to mound bark mulch around the base of the rose, covering the graft union (the swollen part of the stem near the ground). The mound should be about one foot tall. Wait until spring to cut back the canes above the mound. Avoid plastic rose cones without ventilation holes at the top because they can heat up and damage plants in winter.

To prevent sun scald and frost cracking on young, thin-barked trees such as maples, wrap the trunks with tree wrap or paint the south-facing sides of the trunk with white, outdoor latex paint. This will reflect the warming rays of the sun so the tree bark doesn't heat up on winter days, only to be suddenly cooled when the sun sets and the temperature plummets.

Woody perennials, such as butterfly bush, lavender, thyme and heather, can be damaged or killed if you prune in fall. Leave the stems as is, protect them with bark mulch piled over the crowns in late fall and prune in spring.

Sow seeds of perennials that need cold treatment to germinate and grow, such as alliums, monkshood, primulas and alpine plants. Sow in seed flats and, once growing, move them outside to a shady location for winter, or sow directly in an empty bed outside. Cover with straw or pine boughs to help trap snow and provide some winter protection.

Make sure evergreens have a good deep watering before the ground freezes because they continue to transpire during the winter. Protect young evergreens from wind damage during winter by wrapping them in burlap or using wooden protectors. Water these plants whenever the temperatures warm up in winter and early spring if there's no snow cover to provide moisture.

If you are planning to buy a live Christmas tree that you'll plant after the holidays into your yard, dig and prepare the planting hole now before the soil freezes. Fill the hole with straw or hay topped with a board to prevent accidents. Place the soil from the hole in a nonfreezing garage or basement. When you're ready to plant, water the tree well before placing it in the hole, cover the root ball with soil up to where the roots flare out at the base of the trunk, and water again.

Other gardening tips for this month include leaving asparagus stalks to trap snow, cutting back unsightly perennials (leave ones with seeds for the birds), getting spring bulbs planted if you haven't already (look for clearance deals now on bulbs at garden stores), cleaning and storing garden tools, stocking up on bird seed, putting a heated bird bath out for winter, mulching tender roses and perennials and storing pesticides where they won't freeze.

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