November gardening tips

The days are a little bit cooler and the winter months are fast approaching. November is a great month to prepare your plants for the cold weather and wrap up some of the gardening tasks that you might have already started back in your October to-do list.

These tips for gardening in November will set up your garden for success next season. Read on to learn all about these fall garden tasks and how to best implement them in your yard.

November pruning: The bare minimum

One of the most important November gardening tips is to minimize the pruning of shrubs and trees. You can cut back herbaceous perennials, such as peonies or daisies, but try not to trim woody plants.

“It is a good idea to leave as much winter cover as possible, which provides insulation and a microclimate to protect plants from the coldest weather, seedheads for birds, and is important cover for insects.”

Down to Earth: Gardening Wisdom, by Monty Don

Dividing perennials in November

Perennial plants can be cut down to just above soil level so that they will grow back in spring without a soggy mess of last year’s leaves. You can do this by starting from the middle of the patch and moving outwards. Annual plants can be removed as they will die off anyway.

Another great November gardening tip is to take the time to divide your perennials. Hostas, peonies, and other ornamental plants can be dug up and split to multiply your greenery!

Lift and store tender flower bulbs

You will need to lift and store tender flowers like begonias, dahlia, and gladiolus. And don’t forget to remove dead foliage while you are at it! Trim off most of the foliage and compost it. Then carefully dig up the tuber roots and let them dry in the sun. Store them in a cool (but not frozen) spot where they can go dormant for winter. Check them every few weeks and remove any that are showing signs of rot.

Plant garlic

November is the last chance to plant fall garlic in areas where the ground freezes for winter. If you didn’t get around to it in September or October, plant some cloves of garlic now to enjoy a yummy harvest as next summer rolls around.

Mulching for winter protection

Don’t forget to mulch, as it is very important for lawn care and ensuring grass growth next spring! Fill in exposed and empty patches of soil with compost, mulch, or leaf mold. Shredded leaves work very well around the base of tender plants that need a little extra protection in the winter. Try not to apply the thick winter protective mulch until winter is here to stay. Once the ground freezes, you can mulch all your plants and let them stay that way until the spring thaw occurs.

November gardening tips

Try some of these November gardening tips in your yard:

  • Plant trees, shrubs, and perennials before the ground freezes
  • Make leaf mold compost out of fallen leaves and other organic matter
  • Pull out any remaining weeds from your garden beds and vegetable garden
  • Remove remains of dead annual plants and add to the compost
  • Select some plants to leave for overwintering beneficial creatures
  • Store potting soil for wintertime
  • Find and prep spring seed starting supplies for your future flower garden
  • Remove rotten fruit from branches and fallen fruit from the ground below fruit trees
  • Clean gardening tools and sharpen them for early spring
  • Gardening tools like a garden fork or shovel should be put away as you’re readying your garden plants for winter
  • Clean empty planter pots, window boxes, and containers
  • Mulch flower beds with compost.
  • Shred leaves with the lawnmower or a blower vac
  • Plant spring bulbs that were left
  • Harvest frost-sweetened kale
  • Cut back herbaceous perennials. leave some seed heads standing
  • Pruning should be limited to dead/damaged/diseased/dying branches.
  • Pick fall cranberries
  • Leave a few carrots, potatoes, and other veggies in the ground for Thanksgiving dinner
  • Winter spinach should start to be ready. You’ll be able to have a spinach salad with Thanksgiving dinner
  • Sharpen and oil garden tools (and add a few to your holiday wish list!)
  • Birds and other animals will still rely on the food that comes from bird feeders in the winter, so make sure to keep restocking it for your feathered friends!
  • As your garden starts to be covered in snow, invest in beautiful indoor plants to bring your garden indoors.
Long boxwood stems in a galvanized metal bucket on the front porch for making wreaths
Collect boxwood in late november for creating holiday decor.
Collecting evergreen greenery for the upcoming holidays
Collecting evergreen greenery to share for the upcoming holidays
Collecting thyme to dry it in the kitchen for winter
Drying thyme!
Dead fern foliage in november perennial woodland garden
Dead fern foliage in the woodland garden
Final fall herb harvest
Final fall herb harvest
November gardening gift shopping for holidays
November gardening gift shopping for holidays
Shredding leaves for fall compost
Sunflower head full of seeds in the fall garden
Taking care of gardening tools before putting them away for winter
Taking care of gardening tools before putting them away for winter
Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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