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Evergreen Care & Other November
By Charlie Nardozzi, Horticulturist and
Leonard Perry, University of Vermont Extension Horticulturist
Helping evergreen trees and shrubs prepare for winter, wrapping trunks of
young trees, and getting tools ready for winter are some of the gardening
activities for this month.
Wrap Evergreens for Winter
Evergreens continue to respire (that is, lose moisture albeit slowly) during the
winter, so make sure they have a good deep watering before the ground
freezes. It’s best to water them well for several weeks, if there aren’t deep and
long rains. Protect young plants from wind damage during winter by wrapping
them in burlap or with wooden protectors on the windward side.
Wrap the trunks with tree wrap or use white plastic protectors to prevent
sunscald and frost cracking on young, thin-barked trees, such as maples. These
materials 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
temperatures plummet. The plastic protectors also prevent rodents from
gnawing on the trunks. Or, you can wrap the trunks with wire mesh.
Get Your Lawnmower Ready for Winter Storage
Take some time this fall to get your mower and other power equipment ready
for storage. Wipe off any dirt and debris, especially loose wet grass that may
have accumulated on the deck or caked underneath it. This can rust the deck
over winter, shortening the life of the mower body. If reaching under the deck,
make sure to disconnect the spark plug first so the engine has no chance of
starting. Then you can store with the fuel tank empty or full. If storing with
fuel, add a stabilizer, then run the machine for about 10 minutes. Store mowers
in a dry location, or if outdoors, wrap in a waterproof tarp.
After their dry summer rest period, watch for signs of shoot growth on
amaryllis. That signals it's time to pot them up, or if already potted to resume
watering. Use a pot only slightly larger than the bulb diameter. Set a bulb into
moistened potting mix so one-half to one-third of the bulb protrudes above the
soil. Place the pot in a warm well-lit spot, and don't water it again until the first
leaf or flower shoot starts to grow.
Protect Your Vegetable Bed for Winter
Protect the soil of your empty vegetable bed and keep out wayward weed
seeds by covering the beds with leaves or straw. Avoid weedy hay as this only
introduces millions of weed seeds. This surface organic matter also can
encourage beneficial earthworm activity.
Mulching Before Ground Freezes
There's a window of opportunity for mulching because you want to wait until
the ground freezes so you don't give rodents a hiding place too soon, but if you
don't mulch before the snow accumulates, it won't get done. If we could rely on
constant snow cover, mulching would be less necessary, but in the absence of
that protection, we need to provide a winter blanket. Some plants such as coral
bells, delphiniums, oriental poppies, iris, violas, and sedum are better off
without any mulch, especially in winter, when it can compact and encourage
Plant Fall Bulbs: Last Chance!
Before snow flies and the ground freezes, November is your last chance to plant
garlic bulbs, to dig gladiolus to store indoors over winter, and to plant fall
bulbs. If you don’t get your spring-blooming bulbs planted, pot them, then
store indoors in a cool place (40 degrees is ideal, as in a spare refrigerator or
cold root cellar), just don’t let them freeze. Then, anytime after 12 weeks you
can bring into warmth indoors to force into bloom.