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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Nov. 2013 To-Do List: Mid-Atlantic

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centerpiece, mumsWinter is on its way, but that doesn’t mean our window boxes and other planters have to stand empty and bare. Fill them with new potting mix (the soil you used over the summer is depleted of nutrients by now), and refresh your containers with ornamental grasses, heucheras, kale, and / or cheerful pansies. Let variegated ivies trail gracefully over the sides, and if you have room, consider adding a dwarf shrub. Water thoroughly, and apply mulch if your containers are large. Potted mums can be displayed outdoors on warm, sunny days and moved indoors if the temperatures drop. Next month, tuck in a few sprigs of cut or artificial holly berries for pops of Christmas red among the greenery.

  • Deter hungry deer, rabbits, and mice with fencing or repellents. You may also be able to discourage them by growing less palatable plants in your landscape; they don’t prefer tough or prickly foliage. You can also  mix deer-resistant plants with more desirable ones. Try boxwoods, American holly, paper birch, spruces and red pines.
  • Scoop fallen leaves and other debris from your pond or other water feature. Pump or bail out the water and drain any lines and hoses. Order replacement parts, if needed, so you’ll be ready when fair weather returns.
  • We hope you’re following our series on stretch gardening, so you dried and preserved 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 for a jump on the season.
  • Keep newly planted or transplanted shrubs and trees watered if rainfall is scarce, until there is a thick blanket of snow or the ground freezes.
  • When planting bulbs, add bone meal to the bottom of the holes. Be careful not to let fertilizers touch the bulbs; mix amendments with the soil to avoid burning.
  • Dig and separate lily bulbs. Be careful not to slice into the bulbs with your shovel.
  • Sweet autumn clematis blooms on new wood, so cut it back to within three to six inches of the ground after the blooms finish. It will grow back vigorously and flower again next year.
  • Freezing rain can crack concrete and cast stone. Drain fountains or statuary made of these materials and allow them to dry thoroughly before applying concrete sealer. For extra protection, move portable items to a sheltered location or drape with weatherproof covers.
  • Houseplants brought inside for the winter may show their displeasure by dropping leaves. Be careful not to overwater, and don’t fertilize. Avoid putting them so close to windows that their leaves touch the cold glass.
  • For holiday flowers, start amaryllis bulbs indoors. Buds will set about 4 to 6 weeks after you begin watering.
  • After the ground freezes, mulch perennial beds with a thick blanket of shredded leaves from the lawn, bark, seed-free hay, or straw. Layering with evergreen boughs also helps keep the soil from heaving, or alternately thawing and freezing. Heaving can expose roots to the air and sun, causing plants to perish.
  • Mulch strawberry plants with several inches of straw.


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