November is a month of shorter and sometimes misty days. I find there's a chance to take stock and plan for the future. 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. This the month when we celebrate tree planting with the National Tree Planting Week!
There's lots of tidying up to do, compost making, digging and a bit of pruning too but 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 out and put them away for winter.
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.
Protect tender alpine plants from the cold and wet. Many are protected by several feet of snow where they grow in the wild. This not only protects them from severe cold but also keeps them drier. Use a sheet of glass or a garden cloche.
If you haven’t done it already, trim the dead flower heads off summer and autumn flowering heathers. A sharp pair of topiary shears (an excellent gift) is suitable for this. Trim a little of the shoot tips off also as this 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.
Trees and shrubs
Unless the soil is too wet or actually frozen, it’s still a good time for planting hardy plants.
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 tulip bulbs - if not done already done. Urgently plant all other bulbs. They won’t look good if left unplanted 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.
- 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 too.
- The winter flowering Cyclamen coum are around in store this month, so plant them –and the autumn flowering Cyclamen hederifolium – to let them spread and colonise your garden! Plant in the shade of trees or in the rockery and watch them both form strong winter flowering colonies over the years!
- Dust Gladioli corms, Begonia corms and Dahlia tubers (after drying) with Yellow Sulphur dust. This stops rots developing in store. But store all in a frost-free place.
Insulate greenhouses with bubble polythene. A layer of this can lift the temperature by a few critical degrees to keep frost out of an unheated house but could save up to a third of fuel costs in a heated greenhouse.
Open the ventilators a little on mild days. This will encourage good air circulation and will 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. It is surprisingly easy to do but not all plants can be multiplied this way. Oriental poppies, border Phlox, some Primula, mullein, sea holly, bear’s breeches and Dicentra are well worth trying. Dig up a healthy plant, cut thicker roots into 5-7cms lengths and ‘sow’ them in pots filled with cutting compost. They should be rooted by late spring.
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 and will also benefit from a weak feed every month or so. Christmas cacti (Zygocactus or Schlumbergia) need more regular watering otherwise they will drop their flower buds.
Reduce the feeding of indoor plants to just fortnightly and also reduce the amount of water.
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.
Try growing air plants (Tillandsia and Bromeliads) in your home! These plants just need misting over with lukewarm water every now and then. If you can use rainwater, so much the better!
On cold nights make certain that your indoor plants are on the room side of curtains so that they aren’t shivering on the wrong side!
Lawns, hedges, paths and drives
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 if 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 which is good for wildlife. How about beech, hornbeam, 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 hose pipe from the outside tap, store it and 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.
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.
Erect a net over your pond to prevent falling leaves from trees and shrubs getting into the water. If they do it increases the nutrient levels when they break down and that encourages green algae to grow. Rotting leaves may also deprive the fish of oxygen.
Also, remove dead leaves from pond plants when they die back.