November Gardening Checklist

The average date of the first freeze in the Lubbock area is November 1-10!

Planting

  • Continue to plant trees and shrubs.  It is a myth that soil should be amended when planting trees and shrubs.  The first instinct is to make the soil easier for roots to penetrate. But if you make the soil in the dug hole nice, what’s to encourage the tree roots to expand? You’re left with a tree that can’t support itself, because its roots circle in the hole and don’t reach out into the native soil. Those circling roots cause other problems down the road, like girdling, which chokes the trunk. So don’t add anything else to the original soil, just break the soil surrounding the hole up with a spade.
  • Don’t relocate established trees and shrubs until late November to January (when they are dormant.
  • Plant pansies, flowering kale and cabbage, and other cool season annuals.
  • Continue refrigerator chilling of tulips and Dutch hyacinths in preparation for late December/early January planting. It’s ok to plant daffodil and grape hyacinth immediately after purchase.

Pruning

  • Prune evergreen trees as needed to minimize possible ice damage.
  • Cut back dormant perennials such as lantana and salvia after the first freeze.
  • Trim back tropical plants such as cannas, banana and elephant ears after their foliage freezes down.
  • After the first freeze, re-shape shade trees as needed.

Plant Care

  • Mulch leaves on your lawn. Shred excess leaves and add to planting beds or compost pile.
  • Replenish finished compost and mulch in planting beds, preferably before the first freeze. It is a myth that termintes love wood chip mulch. Termites much prefer nutrient-rich things.  Wood chip mulch lacks nitrogen and phosphate, which makes it very unappealing to termites.  Wood chips are also unappealing to rodents.
  • Harvest pecans after mid November.
  • Apply your favorite fertilizer to pansies and other winter color plants to promote strong growth if needed.
  • It is a myth that trees and shrubs should be fertilized each fall. There’s really no need to do this unless it’s obvious the tree needs fertilizer, and if the tree looks unhealthy, it’s best to make an accurate diagnosis before doing anything.
  • It is also a myth that lawns should be fertilized now.  Fertilizer applied now will simply become runoff over winter, and the grass needs some time to “wake up” naturally in the spring anyway.  It is good practice NOT to fertilize for a month after the last frost, and for a month before the first frost.
  • Inspect houseplants that are coming indoors to be sure they have no insect pests.  If you are repotting plants for indoors, do not add gravel or pot shards to the bottom of your planter.  This is another myth!  While it make intuitive sense to do this, studies have shown that water does not want to move out from potting soil into gravel or pot shards, preferring instead to stay in the soil until it’s beyond soaked. Pot shards and gravel also just make the water sit higher in the pot instead of draining out. Just use a good potting soil mix and make sure your container has drainage holes.
  • Harvest fall vegetables before the first freeze.
  • Remove and drain garden hoses from outlets and cover faucets to prevent freeze damage.
  • Watch that water!  Winter is often when overwatering causes damage to arid-region plantings. When the temperature is getting near freezing, the best practice is to adjust timing: Do not start watering until the temperature tends to be above 45 or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Water is too precious to spend on something that often has negative results.
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