Nov. 2013 To-Do List: Coastal &Tropical South

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camelliaThere are many beautiful colors to enjoy in the garden this month. As chlorophyll production slows down in the cooler weather, yellows and oranges appear in the leaves, along with red and purple pigments.  Since frosts are rare to non-existent in most of this region, we can grow almost any kinds of annual flowers and vegetables until the temperatures and humidity rise again next summer. This is a good time to inventory gardening tools and sharpen mower blades, oil wooden handles, and perform other routine maintenance tasks.

  • For autumn interest, try ornamental grasses. Dwarf pampas grass is a good choice where space is limited, bearing handsome buff-colored blooms that age to creamy pink. Hungry birds will dine on the seeds.
  • We hope you’re following our series on stretch gardening so that you saved and dried some flowers and foliage from your yard to make into holiday gifts and decor. If you didn’t, no worries. You can substitute commercially dried or silk flowers. Look through our projects and start soon to get a jump on the Christmas season.
  • Use netting over water features to keep out falling leaves.
  • Repot plants that have outgrown their containers. Use fresh potting soil; the old mix is probably depleted of nutrients by now.
  • Prune overgrown bougainvilleas, or use well-anchored metal frames to trellis them. Wooden frames may not be able to take the weight of their often heavy branches.
  • Remove dead palm fronds with a telescoping pole pruner. Wear protective goggles and gloves, if needed. Make your first cut underneath the branch, and let gravity help remove it. This will also help prevent the bark from ripping as the branch falls. Call a professional if safety is a concern.
  • Before you plant new trees, loosen their roots and spread them out into the hole. Otherwise, roots that have formed a ball will continue to wind in circles and the tree may perish.
  • Re-seed your lawn now, but do not use a pre-emergent weed killer until after the seeds have germinated and had time to establish good roots.
  • Plant native muhly grass in sandy soil or well-drained soil for a pop of pink in your landscape. For maximum impact, group plants together. It can take up to three years for individual plants to make an impressive show.
  • Add Encore azaleas to your autumn beds. These shrubs produce flowers in fall and again in spring. Lorepetalums and sasanquas are also great flowering shrubs for this season.
  • Grow beets, turnips, and carrots now. When the seedlings appear, thin them to every 3 inches. Toss the ones you pull into salads.
  • Sow wildflower seeds, using a mix made for this region. Water the seeds in gently, so they make good contact with the soil, and mulch them lightly.
  • Test your soil, if you haven’t done so already, to see if you need lime or other amendments. If your local extension service offers soil testing, be sure to tell them what you plan to grow, so they can customize their recommendations for you.
  • If whiteflies, scale insects, and aphids are infesting your plants, and a good spray from the garden hose isn’t enough to eliminate them, spray with horticultural oil. 

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