What to Do This Month in the Garden – November

Save the Mums! 

Did you know you can easily save your decorative chrysanthemums for your perennial garden? With a little TLC, they will reward you for the extra care you provide them with abundant color late in the season, when all other color has been sapped.

When their show is over and the flowers have faded, trim off flowers to only the leaves. By trial and error, I have learned what works and what doesn’t, and cutting back too much stresses the plant, so keep those leaves for overwintering.

You can either leave the plant in the pot it came in, or remove it, but the critical step here is MULCH. So, place one or more plants in a large container full of those beautiful leaves that just fell, about three to six inches deep. Mulching is the key. Don’t be afraid to be generous, and especially fill in the spaces between with lots of leaves, but just to the base of the plant. You want to be able to see the above-ground part. Now they are tucked in for their long winter’s nap.

Leave them in your garage, breezeway, shed or other protected space outdoors for the winter. Protected space could be next to the house on the opposite side of the prevailing wind, under some dense shrubs, an in-facing corner away from wind, or something else that doesn’t get winter’s full blast. Basement overwintering works as long as your basement temperature stays at about 55 degrees. I like to place it somewhere I can see it, so I don’t forget to water. Yes, water a few times each month, even when temperatures bottom out. They don’t like to dry out.

Come spring, you have a plant ready to perform! After the last frost, trim any dead branches, dig a hole large enough so the root ball will fit, add some compost, some water, plant your mum and cover, and mission accomplished! The plant will take it from there. Pictured are the chrysanthemums I rescued last November that are still going strong even as we reach this November!

Other Things to Do This Month:

  • Mulch irises and other favorite plants, but especially young trees and shrubs. Bunnies like the bark, and this nibble habit can kill a tree or shrub.
  • Plant spring bulbs! Directions vary by bulb type, so check the packaging.
  • Consider leaving plants that provide winter interest (like sedum) so you have something nice to look at in your winter landscape.
  • Keep up the cleanup going until finished. You’ll thank yourself come spring! This includes tools, plant pots, and other paraphernalia as well as the garden space.
  • Rake the leaves and any grass clippings that remain, and keep for mulch and compost.
  • Amend, amend, amend! Add lime to the garden soil now to break down and work its magic in the spring, or calcium, ash, or leaves; you’ll give yourself another thank you in the spring!

Caroline Poppendeck, Librarian
Steele Memorial Library