Gardening Tips-November

Surprisingly there’s often a lot of good weather this month to support gardening, particularly long-term planning. The soil is loose, not yet frozen hard, and you might find Dahlias still in bloom. Also, now that we’re Zone 7a, there are also some plants that can stay planted and survive rather than dig up and replant next year e.g. eucomis (pineapple lily), gladiolus, crocosmia, crinum lily – however it’s prudent to label them now so you’ll remember where they are!

You’ll also find that there are a number of trees that still look gorgeous in early November. Maples are just one of them.

Kendal Valley in November
Arlington National Cementary in November


You do need to dig Dahlia tubers for storage through winter, but this can wait until light frost kills their top growth which now is good for the compost pile. Further, it’s not too late to plant spring flowering bulbs – be sure you set them at their desired depth (per the label). To avoid shrub damage from heavy snow falls, tie string securely around each plant to keep snow weight from ‘blowing apart’ the side branches.

This is also a great time to distribute mature compost between plants (not onto their crowns), and to control or remove vigorous vines (ivy, native honeysuckle, rambler roses).

Dahlia tuber

You’ll not need your cutter or pruning saw for a few months, so this is a good time to clean them with alcohol before storage.

Here’s a good video by a Master Gardner on how to clean & sharpen your pruners.

Vegetables & Herbs

The last leaves of chives, sage and kale survive light frost so they’ll provide a final harvest opportunity.

Fig Tree – Winterizing

The fruit of a fig tree (Ficus carica) is so desired that many people will plant them in our region even though they could never survive our winters.  So what to do?  The answer is winterize them.   November is the time to tackle this job.  Here is an excellent and thorough video from Logees Plants on how to winterize your fig tree.


There may be stray wind-blown leaves which can cause dead spots if left piled on your lawn for the winter – it is best to add them to your compost pile.


With little plant growth gaining your attention, this is a good time to assess the ‘bones’ of your garden, major shrubs, hardscape fixtures, bed edges; this perspective is even clearer once a light snowfall blanks out the lawn and most of each flower bed. Are there attractive shapes, appealing spaces, and maybe some patterns (especially eye-catching in the winter)?  Start your early Spring planning now.