November: the Full Garden List
As we move deeper into autumn in Central Texas, we are finally beginning to feel some colder weather. Frost will be turning into an issue for sensitive plants. It’s time to move your home and garden toward winter, and prepare for the colder months ahead.
Planting, Transplanting, & Care
- Plant perennials, shrubs, ornamental clumping grasses
- Trees: It’s an ideal time to plant fruiting and ornamental trees, including cold-tolerant citrus such as Satsuma mandarins, kumquat, and tangerines.
- Plant outdoor citrus trees in full sunlight with very well-draining soil. Place where it will be protected from gusty northern winds. If you have a sunny south-facing brick or rock wall, consider espalier. Lemons are the perfect candidate for espalier.
- Most deciduous trees are dormant or going dormant by now. This dormancy makes them much more tolerant of temperature and water. Plant them now until early February to take advantage of this.
- Plant Winter Annuals, including Calendula, Snapdragon, Pansy, Viola, Dusty Miller, Flowering and Ornamental Kale & Cabbage, Alyssum, Stock, Cyclamen
- Early to Thanksgiving, plant native wildflower seeds like Bluebonnets, Phlox, Mexican Hat, Indian Paintbrush, and Indian Blanket. Also non-native Poppies, Larkspurs, and Hollyhocks.
- Plant Spring Bulbs to the first week of December.
- Force paperwhite bulbs for holiday blooms.
- Avoid planting cold-tender plants like Pride of Barbados, Esperanza, Lantana, and Plumbago.
- Succulents: bring frost-tender succulents indoors. Many succulents such as Echeveria bloom during the winter. Keep taking care of them as usual, being careful to not overwater as the cold temperatures keep soil wetter longer. Remove dead leaves to not contribute to rot.
- Roses: Grafted roses are not as cold-tolerant as own-root roses and need to be protected from a hard frost. Mound up straw or soil around the root zone as insulation. Keep your roses watered during the winter if there are no sufficient rains.
- Evergreens: All evergreen plants still lose water through their leaves during the wither. Continue to water them through the winter if there is not sufficient rain.
- Ornamental Grasses: You can largely leave your ornamental grasses alone until early spring. If native grasses are looking a little drab, glove up and give them a fluffing with open hands, going in an upward motion to remove dead leaves. This is especially effective for Muhly grasses.
- Transplanting: Strawberries can be transplanted into moist soil. Cool-season annuals can be added to containers if protected from frost. Keep adding bulbs and tuck a few into containers that will winter outdoors. This is the last month to transplant container-grown roses. Add hardy vines and ground covers so they have the winter to develop an extensive root system for the summer season.
- Mulch cold-tender plants like gingers, Esperanza, and semi-tropicals.
- Plant Perennial Thyme, Oregano, Lavender
- Plant Arugula, Cilantro transplants, Parsley, Dill, Fennel, Chervil, Summer Savory, Borage, Chives, Rue
- Be prepared to cover herbs in case of a deep freeze.
- Plant Asian Greens, Beets, Carrots, Swiss Chard (seed or transplants), Collards (seed or transplants), Fava Beans, Garlic, Kale (seed or transplants), Kohlrabi (seed or transplants), Lettuce (seed or transplants), Mustard (seed or transplants), Onion (bulbing, seeds), Radish, Shallots, Spinach (seed or transplants), Turnips
- Pay attention to the weather. Before the first frost, pick the fruit from tender plants such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. For frosts and extended periods of cold weather, consider using row cover tunnels using frost cloth and hoops. Remove the fabric when temperatures get above 45 degrees to keep from baking your plants.
- Remove and compost asparagus tops. Save seeds from heirloom varieties to enlarge your vegetable patch.
- Our average first frost is November 15, but sometimes occurs earlier. Many root vegetables such as turnips, carrots, and parsnips sweeten after a frost or two. Parsnips need this cold treatment for the best flavor and can stay in the ground for a month after frosts start.
- Keep planting winter crops in small batches for successive harvest.
- Water weekly with liquid seaweed for strong root establishment.
- Avoid pruning shrubs right now unless you see damage or extensive runners.
- It’s okay to prune Red Oak and Live Oak through January.
- It’s okay to prune trees to prepare for possible winter freezes.
- Prune the dead wood of herbaceous perennials such as lantana and beautyberry after the first couple of freezes.
- Check mulch and replenish as necessary.
- Stockpile leaves for mulch and composting all year.
- Prepare veggie beds that won’t be planted with a mulch of leaves and compost to cover soil completely.
- Take advantage of good weather to build up soil in other beds so they’re ready for winter planting.
- Only cool-season vegetables should be fertilized, as needed, with a moderate application of a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio fertilizer.
- Shrubs, roses, trees, evergreen spring-blooming perennials
- There is not much to do with your lawn once November and cold temperatures hit. The grass generally goes dormant and you needn’t mow. If you must mow, keep high to shade out germinating weeds.
- Use a mulching mower instead of raking leaves.
- You also will not need to fertilize or use pre-emergents as they would stimulate new growth that could freeze off. You can amend lightly with compost to add a bit of insulation and decompose very slowly over the winter.
- Continue to water depending on rainfall. More grass dies from dehydration than from cold in winter. Water before you expect a frost to protect roots in the cold.
- As you will not be watering that often, now is a good time to inspect your sprinkler system. Replace any damaged heads.
- Water everything well before a freeze, but avoid overwatering. Irrigate only in the absence of rainfalls and test for dryness before going for the hose.
Pests & Wildlife
- Many birds are migrating during this time. Consider putting out a bird feeder with sunflower seeds, millet, dried fruit, and suet to feed local songbirds. Keep bird feeders away from death zones like tall grasses or bushes, ledges, or wall corners to keep our feathered friends from outdoor cats. The higher the better.
- Insects are not much of a problem after the first frost hits. Take advantage of outside time with no mosquitoes.
- Hose off plants to remove any unwanted pests before you bring them into the house. Wipe off any spiderwebs.
- Acclimate your plants by at first bringing them in only at night, so they get used to the decreased light and humidity. This can help prevent leaf drop. Gradually increase the time indoors until they are inside all of the time for the season.
- Place tropicals and other houseplants in a sunny southern window or greenhouse.
- Decrease the amount of water your plants receive while they are inside. Make sure you put a drip tray down to protect your flooring. Water only when the soil is dry and be careful not to flood the drip tray.
- Refrain from fertilizing, but depending on the plant, use a small quantity of slow-release fertilizer or a half-strength liquid fertilizer.
- Diseases/Pests: Pest insects are more likely to be encountered on indoor plants than disease because the interior environment rarely offers favorable conditions for foliar diseases to develop. However, when plants are grown under stressful indoor conditions (such as lower light, lower humidity, and excess water) soil-borne pathogens often develop.
Other Tasks & Prep
- In the Kitchen
- Cut basil to freeze in oil in ice cube trays for winter recipes.
- Allow tomatoes to ripen indoors in a sealed paper bag, or make fried green tomatoes
- In the Shed
- Clean your gardening tools.
- Sharpen blades of shovels, trimmers, and loppers.
- Apply a thin coat of machine oil to lubricate moving parts and prevent rust, especially on pruning sheers.
- Use diluted bleach to disinfect trimmers to prevent spread of diseases.
- Treat wooden handles with linseed oil.
- In the Yard
- Select spots where you want fruit trees, grapes, or berries to plant in January; for now, prep with compost.
- Rake leaves into beds to mulch over winter and return nutrients to the soil. Use excess leaves in compost.
- November usually means storms for Central Texas, so periodically keep your garden beds clean by picking up downed branches and debris.
- Prepare for the freezes by insulating faucets and draining garden hoses.
- Check gutters for debris so they may do their job properly in the rainy season.
- Consult your owner’s manuals for information on winterizing your lawnmower and other engine-powered equipment.
- In the Greenhouse
- Collect seeds from summer annuals to dry and store indoors until next spring.
- Take cuttings of tender annuals to propagate in warmth for planting next spring.
- Keep new seedlings moist but not drenched.