Nov. 2013 To-Do List: Northern & Central Midwest

Home Depot

deterring-deerAs the trees shed their leaves, it’s time to prune overgrown evergreen shrubs. Cutting them back now helps control for size while encouraging bushier growth next spring. This is not a good time to prune rose bushes, however; pruning them late in the year stimulates tender new growth that would be killed by the cold. Finish planting bulbs as long as the ground isn’t frozen, and add a layer of mulch. Keep an eye on houseplants that you recently brought back indoors. If you spot spider mites or scale pests, try knocking them off with a spray of water in the kitchen sink. If that isn’t enough, use horticultural spray to eliminate them. Increase the humidity for houseplants by putting them on top of pebbles in a shallow pan or tray filled with some water. To avoid root rot, don’t let the pots touch the water.

  • Discourage deer from dining on the plants in your landscape by mixing deer-resistant plants with more desirable ones. Although hungry deer will eat almost anything, they don’t prefer tough, prickly, or fuzzy plants. You can also try fencing or repellents to keep them out, or garden devices that make loud noises and sudden movements.
  • 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 to get a jump on the season.
  • Houseplants often show their distress at being moved indoors for the winter by dropping leaves or wilting. Reduce watering once they’re inside, and don’t fertilize. When placing them by a window, keep them out of drafts, and don’t let the leaves touch the cold glass.
  • For Christmas flowers, start amaryllis bulbs indoors now. They usually bloom in 4 to 6 weeks after you start watering. If you saved a bulb from last year, add an inch of fresh potting soil to the pot, move it into a warm room, and water.
  • Store clay and ceramic pots in a location that won’t freeze. If they’re encrusted with minerals or salts from fertilizers, soak them in a tub of water and scrub with steel wool and dish soap. Allow them to air dry thoroughly before putting them away.
  • If you haven’t already done so, prune the geraniums you brought indoors to half their original size. Keep them in a cool, sunny location and fertilize with a blooming houseplant food as directed on the label. Watch for new growth and blooms by mid-winter.
  • Mulch perennial beds for the coming cold with shredded leaves, bark, seed-free hay, straw, or evergreen boughs. Mulching helps prevent heaving, which is what happens when the ground alternately freezes and thaws, exposing plant roots to damaging air and sun.
  • Unless you simply want a tidier garden, leave the foliage on your perennials uncut. It can catch falling leaves and snow to help protect them.
  • Mulch strawberry plants with several inches of straw. If you’re starting a new strawberry bed, prepare the soil now.
  • Prepare a bed for asparagus now by digging about 18″ deep and clearing the soil of all weeds and grass. Be ready to purchase one-year-old asparagus roots to plant in early spring.
  • Once your Christmas cactus sets buds, avoid moving it from room to room. Temperature changes can cause the buds to drop.
  • Rake fallen leaves and fruits from underneath fruit trees and berry plants, so pests and diseases can’t overwinter until spring.

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