November Gardening Activities - Region 3

Gardening Tips for November

Northeast, Midwest and Central Plains Gardens

Learn2Grow Region 3 Map

States in the region:

Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois,
Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa
South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana

Key Issues for November

  • Check your trees for bagworm capsules. If you find any, remove and destroy this pest and its “bags” immediately.
  • Check your trees for tent caterpillar eggs as well. These egg masses are laid in groups that typically encircle smaller twigs. Identifying, removing and destroying them now will help you avoid a caterpillar infestation come spring.
  • Protect marginally hardy plants that you’ve been enjoying since spring. Container plants can be planted in the ground and mulched to protect the roots, or they can be moved to a sheltered location (like a garage) and kept safe from the upcoming bitter cold.
  • Dig, cure and store tender bulbous plants (like dahlias, cannas, gladiolas and elephant ears) after frost has killed the foliage. (Non-hardy bulbs that are left in the ground will turn to mush during winter’s freeze.) Store your tender bulbs in a frost-free location until all danger of frost has passed come spring. (One convenient place to store frost-tender plants is in the crawl space.)
  • Plant spring-flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips and hyacinths (and more) in your beds and borders. (As long as the ground isn’t frozen, there’s still time!) Remember, plant now in fall, to enjoy these blooming beauties in spring!
  • Clean up the perennial border before Old Man Winter arrives!
  • Winterize your planting beds and get a head start on eliminating potential garden pests and problems next spring: Do a thorough cleanup of your beds now, taking care of any remaining annuals and vegetables in the garden. Any debris that’s infested with insects or plagued by fungi should be thrown away – not composted. Remember, good sanitation goes a long way in the garden!
  • Resist the urge to give extra care to your houseplants. You don’t need to fertilize them until February, and any repotting can wait until spring.
  • Rake the fallen leaves off your lawn – especially if you’ve recently seeded. A layer of leaves left on your turf can easily smother young or mature lawns. (Make it even easier on yourself and mow autumn leaves into mulch!)
  • Keep mowing if your lawn is still growing. The “last mow” of the season is near, but in the meantime, don’t bag those grass clippings – recycle them back onto the lawn. Contrary to what you might have heard, clippings will not become thatch (a spongy layer found between grass blades and roots).
  • Winterize your lawn mower, too, after the final cut of the season. Any repairs, sharpening or blade replacements should be done in late fall or winter, so you and your mower are ready when active lawn growth resumes in spring.
  • Remove any mummified fruits from trees, and rake up those that have fallen to the ground. Leaving them where they are might set the disease triangle into motion, causing disease and insect damage over the 2014 gardening season.
  • Keep your plants well-watered going into late fall and winter, paying close attention to any that have been recently planted. Plants that face winter dryness are prone to damage and dieback during the cooler months. The trick is to water deeply and less often in order to establish self-sufficient plants. (Otherwise the more you water, the shallower plant roots will be.) Adding a layer of mulch around the base of your plants also helps retain moisture.
  • Help prepare your roses for winter. Mound loose soil over the bud union and lower canes, then mulch heavily with straw. Cover the mound with burlap and tie it into place to help with winter wind protection.
  • Make your own compost and create some “black gold” for your garden next year – it’s easy! Garden debris (like spent annuals and vegetables) and fallen leaves make suitable additions to the compost pile.
  • Consider buying a compost keeper for the kitchen. (Or add it to your holiday wish list.) Some food scraps you’d otherwise throw away can be used to make compost.
  • Leave the seed heads on some of your perennials as a natural winter food source for birds, and clean and fill bird feeders. Once you start feeding the birds, don’t stop until natural food becomes available for them again next spring. (Providing a source of fresh water is always desirable for our feathered friends, too!)
  • Feed the birds the fun way: Make a pinecone bird feeder with the kids and grandchildren! Just roll pinecones in peanut butter and birdseed. Hang the finished ornaments with rustic twine or ribbon in shrubs and trees near windows and seating areas for quiet observation and enjoyment.
  • Add winter squash to your Thanksgiving Day menu. Butternut and acorn squash are traditional holiday foods – and they’re good for you! Roasted squash is an easy and delicious way to get more of this healthful veggie into your family’s diet.
  • Force paperwhite bulbs for holiday enjoyment. Blooming paperwhites are known for their intoxicating fragrance, especially during the winter holidays. If you’d like to enjoy them (or give them as gifts) in December, now’s the time to get started!
  • Plant some amaryllis bulbs in containers every two weeks from now through early winter for a continual indoor bloom display that can last until spring. Prized for its incredible trumpetlike flowers, amaryllis is easy to grow (and enjoy)!
  • Plant your potted hardy mums in the landscape. Choose a location that offers full sun and well-drained soil. You’ll enjoy their blooms every fall – not just for one season!
  • Clean your gardening tools. Outdoor fall chores are winding down. When you’re finished for the season, make sure your digging equipment is properly cleaned and stored. (This will save you time and money come spring!)