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Monthly Horticulture Tips

November Gardening Tips

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Oklahoma State University

David Hillock, Consumer Horticulturist

Tree & Shrub

  • Prune deciduous trees if in early part of winter. Prune only for structural and safety purposes.
  • Wrap young, thin-barked trees with a commercial protective material to prevent winter sunscald.
  • Apply dormant oil for scale infested trees and shrubs before temperatures fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow label directions.
  • Continue to plant balled & burlap and containerized trees.
  • Watch for arborvitae aphids, which tolerate cooler temperatures in evergreen shrubs.
  • Tulips can still be successfully planted through the middle of November.
  • Leave foliage on asparagus, mums, and other perennials to help insulate crowns from harsh winter conditions.
  • Bulbs like hyacinth, narcissus and tulip can be potted in containers for indoor forcing.
Lawn & Turf
  • Fertilize cool-season grasses like fescue with 1 pound nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft.
  • Continue to mow fescue as needed at 2 inches and water during dry conditions.
  • Control broadleaf winter weeds like dandelions.
  • Keep falling leaves off fescue to avoid damage to the foliage.
  • Leftover garden seeds can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer until next planting season. Discard seeds over 3 years old.
  • Gather and shred leaves. Add to compost, use as mulch or till into garden plots.
  • Clean and store garden and landscape tools. Coat with a light application of oil to prevent rusting. Drain fuel tanks, irrigation lines, and hoses. Bring hoses indoors.
Fruit & Nut
  • Delay pruning fruit trees until next February or March before bud break.
  • Harvest pecans and walnuts immediately to eliminate deterioration of the kernel.


Fall Clean Up by David Hillock

As plants in the landscape go dormant or are killed off by colder temperatures, it is a good time to do some fall cleaning in the landscape.

Leaves falling from trees are a good source of mulch and compost. If there are groundcovers or turfgrasses growing in the area, then it is best to remove the leaves and compost them or use them as mulch. Many beneficial insects and pollinators survive in leaf litter through the winter months. When removing leaves from turf areas, consider raking them into landscape beds instead of composting them. In wooded areas where there is little understory growth it is best to leave the leaves to decay naturally, which will also provide habitat for beneficial insects.

Many beneficial insects as well as pollinators also survive in stems of perennials. Don’t cut perennials back until late winter/early spring just before new growth, and even then, do not chop them up but let them fall to the ground or throw them into a corner of the landscape to allow any insects to emerge unharmed.

Other types of landscape debris like prunings from trees and shrubs or soft tissue perennials (i.e., canna, hosta) can be chipped or ground up to be used in compost piles or as mulch. However, if plants have been plagued with diseases and insects it may be best to remove them completely from the garden by burning them (if allowed in your community) or sending them off to collection facilities. Debris infected with diseases or harmful insects remaining in the landscape will only become a source for infection next year.

Sanitation is an important step in reducing outbreaks of pest problems. A good example is the twigs that frequently fall from trees like pecan. It is very possible they are infected with the larvae of a twig girdler. Larvae overwinter in the dead twigs, eventually pupating in the twig and emerging as an adult next summer. Another good example is the numerous foliar diseases that also overwinter on dead leaves and debris only to spread to new growth the following spring. Removing these organisms from your garden will reduce the chances of them recurring the following year.

Finding that balance of leaving some material for the good guys and removing debris infected with pests can be challenging. Use your best judgement.

Another practice during the fall and winter months that helps keep pests at bay is occasionally tilling fallow ground. Flower or vegetable beds that remain empty during the winter months can be tilled just before freezing temperatures. Hibernating insects are brought to the surface where they will be exposed to and killed by the cold temperatures.

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