By Hanna Smith, Urban Horticulture Extension Agent

Gardening isn’t in the forefront of minds in the cool months of November and December, but there are still quite a number of tasks
that can be done in the winter months. These tips include what can be done with ornamentals, lawns, and edibles and also any other tips you can use to be successful.

Tips for November

• Plant trees and shrubs. Prepare the site by loosening the soil well beyond the drip line of each plant. Plant at depth grown in nursery or slightly higher.
• When chrysanthemums are through flowering, remove the stalks to help root development.
• Remove growth by pinching tops of pansies and snapdragons.
• Cut back and clean up frost killed perennials.
• Clean up rose beds – be sure all diseased leaves are raked up and destroyed.
• Plant spring bulbs in the piedmont and mountains. Coastal bulbs may be delayed until December.
• Continue watering evergreens until the ground freezes. Soil should not be dry when winter arrives.

• Treat your lawnmower and other power tools right this winter and they will perform well for you.
• Disconnect spark plugs, give mowing parts a squirt of oil, and change oil.
• A November application of fertilizer to fescue lawns is very beneficial in promoting root development without excessive top growth.
• Keep leaves removed from lawn. A leaf blower is the safest way to remove leaves from newly seeded areas.

• Mulch strawberries for winter with straw.
• Fallen, spoiled, or mummified fruits should be cleaned up from the ground and destroyed.
• Plant lettuce and other hardy vegetables such as beets, cabbage and spinach in cold frames for winter.
• Remove dead vegetable plants from garden to prevent insects and diseases from overwintering.

• Roll up and store garden hoses on a warm, sunny day. It’s hard to get a cold hose to coil into a tight loop.
• Be sure to shut off and drain any outdoor water pipes or your irrigation system may freeze.

Tips for December

• Keep your living Christmas tree outside in a cool, shady, windless area until ready to decorate. Don’t keep the tree indoors for more than one week and set up in the coolest room of the house.
• Store decorative ceramic terra cotta pots and containers inside to avoid cracks from freezing temperatures.
• Continue to plant spring bulbs until the ground is frozen, water and mulch.

• Prune berry producing plants if berries are desirable in table arrangements over the holidays. Only female holly trees bear the colorful berries. There must be a male tree growing nearby for pollination if fruit is desired.
• Any fall planted woody ornamentals (especially evergreens) should be mulched and watered regularly this month.
• Watch for signs of insect activity on any houseplants that spent the summer outdoors.
• Deciduous or leaf losing trees and and shrubs can be transplanted after the leaves fall in the autumn.

• Order fruit trees adapted to your area and designate shipping dates that avoid hard, frozen ground problems when planting.
• Store leftover seeds in a cool dry location.

• Pick up fallen leaves, limbs and other debris from lawns to prevent suffocation of the turf during winter.
• Store any leftover lawn fertilizer in dry location and out of reach of children and pets.

• On cold nights move houseplants back from icy windows to prevent chilling injury.
• Holiday poinsettias need at least six hours of sunlight each day. Keep away from drafts and be sure to punch holes in decorative foil wraps to prevent root rot.
• Cut Christmas trees hold needles longer if a fresh cut is made at the base and this cut is always submerged in water.
• Clean and oil all garden tools before storing for the winter.
• Use sand, birdseed, or sawdust to gain traction on icy paths. Avoid salt or ice melters as these may injure plants.

Hannah Smith is responsible for the
Extension Master Gardener Volunteer
program and consumer and commercial