November is the big clean-up month


  • November 12th is the median date for the first frost in our area (Zone 7b)
  • Important-to-Know:  Plants are not severely affected until the temperature hits 26° which is when water crystalizes in the cells of a plant, thus destroying the plant.
  • Many summer annuals are spent – so go ahead and pull them out and replace them with pansies, kale and ornamental cabbages for fall interest in key locations where you will be able to enjoy them.
  • If annuals are still blooming at first frost leave flower seed heads for the birds
  • Consider potting up some annuals such as coleus, impatiens and geraniums for wintering over before the frost hits them.
  • Callas, cannas and dahlias should be cut to the ground as soon as they have been touched by frost.  Dig up whole clumps of tubers. Shake off the excess earth and do not separate or wash. Allow to dry for several days out of the sun before storing in perlite or dry peat moss.
  • Lilies, whether from a catalog or local store, should be planted immediately – before November 15th.
  • Tulips – plant tulips after November 15th and preferably after December 1st.
  • It is time to dig and store caladiums, canna, gladiolus, Peruvian daffodil, and tuberosa.
  • Mulch azaleas and camellias lightly with leaf-mold or peat moss.
  • Cut back perennials that are past their prime.
  • New perennial plants, evergreens, and trees can be planted this month.
  • Limit pruning of shrubs to sniping stray branches and removing dead or damaged stems.
  • Plant trees and shrubs. Loosen roots of container grown plants that may have become root-bound. Do not plant too deep.
  • Do NOT fertilize your ornamental plants. Perennials are slowing down and preparing to go dormant for the winter. You do not want to encourage new growth now.
  • Azaleas – Plant early enough for them to get established before sever cold or wait for early spring. Best time before blooming. Give established azaleas a full application of leaf mold or peat moss. 
  • Planting perennial seeds for spring blooming is recommended.
  • Dig out all un-healthy looking evergreens or flowering shrubs and prepare the ground for replacements. 
  • Leaves – do not dispose leaves. Save them for the garden as hard wood leaves make perfect for azaleas and camellias or add them to the compost pile. Chop up with lawn mower to speedier decomposition

Vegetables & Herbs

  • Harvest pumpkins and winter squash before frost
  • Remove asparagus spears as soon as they are killed by frost.
  • Keep after the weeds. Do not let the summer weeds start spreading seeds. Winter weeds like chickweed are already starting to appear.
  • Grow herbs on a sunny window sill. Try chives, parsley and/or basil
  • Make seasonal garden notes to track what you grew and where you grew it for crop rotation planning next season.


  • Remove fallen leaves so they do not smoother grass
  • Accumulating leaves on newly seed grass can damage young tender seedlings. Use a leaf blower, rake gently or use the bagging attachment on the mower to pick up the leaves
  • Top-dress existing turf and apply lime to the lawn now. Hold off putting down any fertilizer until December.
  • November is a good month to lay turf.
  • Fall is the best time to core aerate the lawn.  Aerate before fertilizing or reseeding.


  • Clean up around fruit trees. Not only rake leaves, but also remove all fruit from the ground and any left hanging in the tree. Good sanitation is important for pest management.

House Plants

  • Plants that thrive in the shade outdoors in the summer make the best houseplants in the winter. You can pot up coleus, wax begonias and impatiens. Try to disturb the roots as little as possible when you dig them up.
  • For those plants that require high humidity, such as many ferns and orchids, a spot over the kitchen sink or in a bathroom window may be a good location.
  • Move house plants indoors before temperatures fall below 50º F. Check house plants for signs of insects and treat a few times, if necessary, before moving back indoors.
  • While you are at it, clean up the plants by removing dead leaves and flowers, snip back over-long stems and give the plant a thorough bath with the garden hose.



  • Clean and repair tools for winter storage
  • Now is the time to plan for indoor winter blooming bulbs. Some hardy bulbs require a chilling off period ranging from ten weeks to sixteen weeks – a refrigerator crisper drawer works well at 45º – 50º F.
  • Move all non cold-hardy container plants to a protected location
  • Fall is a good time to clean up the garden supplies. Pesticide labels will tell you how they should be stored for winter.
  • Ants – Put out fresh  portions of ant poison now. Ants are storing food for the winter now and will store poison honey if given a chance.