Scheduling Garden Activities

Kathy Henderson

Garden Columnist

Most of the questions that I am asked about gardening are concerned with the appropriate time to do certain tasks in the landscape or garden. Maybe this information will get you through the next few months.

Angel’s Trumpet in Kathy’s Garden Special photo

Plant hardy perennial plants. Divide most hardy perennials and replant divisions into good garden soil.

Nip unruly growth on evergreen shrubs unless these shoots are going to bloom in the fall, winter or spring. Many shrubs have set blooms for next spring (azaleas). Prune broad-leaf evergreen shrubs, but cutting them back to bare stems will make your landscape ugly and may cause part of the plant to die from freezing. Pruning encourages the sap to rise and the growth hormones to stimulate buds into new tender growth. That is why we prune these in late winter or early spring, just prior to the time for new growth.

Plant magnolias and crape myrtles during this month and November. Planting them in cold ground is not a good idea.

Plant pansies, snapdragons, flowering kale, parsley, mustard and any other cool weather annuals for winter color. These will develop strong root systems and survive the winter. Plant collards, broccoli, cabbage, all types of greens, onions in the vegetable garden.

Plant chrysanthemums and asters for instant color. When the tops of these plants are killed by winter freezes, the roots remain alive and new growth will emerge in the spring.

Continue to plant hardy perennials. Plant shrubs and trees during this month, and continue through the month of March when weather and soil moisture allows. Mulch and water immediately. No fertilizer in the soil or around the plant until spring.

Plant spring-flowering bulbs through January. If on sale late in the season, plant immediately after purchase. Daffodils last many years while tulips tend to come back for only a year or two, if that. Plant other bulbs that you may find in the garden center or catalogs that offer spring-flowering bulbs.

Plant fruit trees through March.

Be prepared to cover your plants in case of an early frost. Frost cloth is available in catalogs and will keep your plants about 10 degrees warmer than the air. If you use plastic, remove it as soon as the weather warms the next day.

Make 6-10-inch stem cuttings of Angel’s Trumpet before the first frost. All stems will root in water or potting soil.

Check your houseplants often for insects. Make sure they are watered well, but not overwatered. Misting their leaves and placing them in a cool sunny location helps them thrive.

Purchase Amaryllis and Christmas cactus for your home and to give to others. Most Amaryllis are hardy and can be planted outdoors in the spring.

Continue to plant trees and consider giving one to a friend or family member.

Trim your conifers (needle-like evergreens) for Christmas greenery. Do not cut conifers back severely into old wood. They will not come back as many broad-leaf evergreens do.