November is a month of short and misty days. There's a chance to plan for the future, and it's a great time to order seeds for next spring!
It's also a month for planting hardy plants and trees before the soil gets too wet and cold. November is also the month when we celebrate tree planting with the National Tree Planting Week!
There is lots of tidying, compost making, digging and a bit of pruning too. All can be done at a more leisurely pace than in other months of the gardening year.
Pots and borders
- There’s still time to re-plant tubs and hanging baskets for winter and spring colour. Pack them full of pansies,Viola, bulbs and trailing ivy! If you don’t plant them up, empty them and put them away for winter.
Themed white, mauve and blue pansies
- Protect tender alpine plants from the cold and wet, as many are protected by several feet of snow in the wild. Use a sheet of glass or a garden cloche.
- Move planted pots closer together so that they protect one another in cold weather. Remove saucers from underneath them and ensure excess water can get away through the drainage holes in the base by standing them on pot feet.
Pot raised onto pot feet to improve winter drainage
- If you haven’t done it already, trim the dead flower heads off summer and autumn flowering heathers using a sharp pair of topiary shears. Trimming a little of the shoot tips off will keep the plants compact.
- Don’t be in too much of a hurry to remove dead flowers and stems from perennials. Many look fantastic with winter hoar frost on them.
Hoar frost can look spectacular on plants in winter
Trees and Shrubs
- Unless the soil is too wet or frozen, now is still a good time for planting hardy plants.
Planting a hardy plant in autumn
- Prune about a third off Lavatera and Buddleja but leave the hardest pruning until spring. This early pruning reduces wind rock during winter storms.
- Deciduous trees - those that have lost their leaves - can be pruned now if required.
- Fork over flower borders and work a slow-release feed such as Fish, Blood and Bone Meal into the soil. Top off with a mulch of mushroom compost or chipped bark.
- Plant a tree in your garden or in a public place to take part in National Tree Week.
Bulbs and Corms
- Plant tulip bulbs if you haven't already. Urgently plant all other bulbs. They won’t look good left on the shelf.
- Check potted bulbs that you are going to force into flower early. Make sure that they are well watered. If they have made sufficient roots and, in the case of Hyacinths, the flower bud has emerged from the bulb, they can be put into a well lit warm place to start the forcing process.
Hyacinth bulbs at the perfect stage to bring inside
- Pot up Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs. Use good quality multipurpose compost and leave the top third of the bulb standing proud of the compost. Water very little until leaves appear. Re-pot bulbs that you’ve saved from last year into fresh compost.
- The winter floweringCyclamen coumare in store this month, so plant them –and the autumn floweringCyclamen hederifolium– to let them spread and colonise your garden! Plant in the shade of trees (or in the rockery) and watch them form strong winter-flowering colonies over the years!
Plant hardy cyclamen now
- Dust Gladioli corms, Begonia corms and Dahlia tubers (after drying) with Yellow Sulphur dust. This stops rot developing while they are stored in a frost-free place.
Greenhouse, Polytunnel or Conservatory
- Insulate greenhouses with bubble polythene. A layer of this can lift the temperature by a few critical degrees to keep the frost out and can save up to a third of the fuel costs of a heated greenhouse.
- Open the ventilators a little on mild days to encourage good air circulation and minimise diseases.
- Wash the glass down with Jeyes Multipurpose Disinfectant and Cleaner to allow as much light in as possible.
- Try propagating plants by taking root cuttings.
Preparing and inserting root cuttings of perennial plants at Howard Nursery
- Oriental poppies, border Phlox, some Primula, mullein, sea holly, bear’s breeches and Dicentra are good varieties to propagate by root cuttings.
- Watch out for any mice that might move inside at this time of year!
The Indoor Garden
- Reduce water given to cacti and succulents in winter. They still need some though and will benefit from a weak feed every month or so. Christmas cacti (ZygocactusorSchlumbergia) need more regular watering. Otherwise, they will drop their flower buds.
- Reduce the amount of water given to indoor plants, and reduce feeding to fortnightly.
- Indoor Cyclamen are at their best this month! They are perfect for cool rooms or conservatories. Water only from the base to avoid diseases attacking the centre of the plant.
Indoor cyclamen are best watered from below
- Grow Tillandsia and Bromeliad air plants in your home! These plants just need misting over with lukewarm water now, and rain or bottled water is perfect! A bathroom is an excellent place for these.
Air plan Tillandsia hanging from a roof
- On cold nights, make sure that indoor plants are on the room side of curtains so that they aren’t shivering on the wrong side!
Lawns, Hedges, Paths and Driveways
- Treat paths with Algon Organic Cleaner to control algae and moulds that make them slippery when wet. This is ideal for cleaning decking too but test on a small area first.
- Control moss on the lawn with Aftercut Autumn All in One. This needs to be applied before mid-November. After this use Vitax Green Up Lawn tonic.
- Plant new hedges this month. They don’t have to be that notorious conifer Leylandii! There are masses of choices, and lots are native and good for wildlife. How about beech, hornbeam or hawthorn? Good evergreen hedges can be created if you plant laurel, Griselinia littoralis, yew or box.
- Sweep up leaves and compost them. Don’t waste them! Just add a compost accelerator to speed up the process. You can even do this in dustbin liner bags.
Bits and Pieces
- Disconnect your hosepipe from the outside tap and store it. Lag the tap to protect it from frost.
- If you can’t put your garden furniture inside, then it is probably worth investing in a cover. That way you can whip the cover off and sit in the garden whenever the sun shines! Wooden furniture should be cleaned down and treated with good oil when dry.
Patio furniture covered in snow
- Wash bird feeders and tables with Jeyes Disinfectant to minimise spread of bird diseases. There’s plenty of natural food this month, but you’ll soon need to help them out by putting out bird feed.
Chaffinch perched by a clean bird feeder
- Erect a net over your pond to prevent falling leaves from trees and shrubs getting into the water. Leaves can increase the nutrient levels when they break down, encouraging green algae to grow. Rotting leaves may also deprive the fish of oxygen.
- Remove dead leaves from pond plants when they die back.