University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Fall News Article
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PREVENTING SUN SCALD AND OTHER NOVEMBER GARDENING TIPS

 
Charlie Nardozzi, Horticulturist and
Leonard Perry, UVM Extension Horticulturist
 
 
Preventing sun scald on trees, protecting roses, and proper mulching are some of the gardening tips for this month.

To prevent sun scald and frost cracking on young, thin-barked trees, such as maples, wrap the trunks with tree wrap or paint the south- and southwest-facing sides of the trunk with white, outdoor, latex paint. This will reflect the warming rays of the sun so the tree bark doesn't heat up on winter days, only to be suddenly cooled when the sun sets and the temperature plummets.

Make sure evergreens have a good deep watering before the ground freezes because they continue to respire, albeit slowly, during the winter. Protect young evergreens from wind damage during winter by wrapping them in burlap. If you use wooden protectors, it's not too soon to bring them out.

Once the ground begins to freeze and you have consistent temperatures in the low 20s (F), it's time to protect modern hybrid roses from winter's wind and cold. The simplest method is to mound bark mulch around the base of the rose (soil or compost is less attractive to field mice), covering the graft union (the swollen part of the stem near the ground). The mound should be about 1 foot tall. Wait until spring to cut back the canes above the mound.

Bare soil invites weeds. Cover empty beds in your vegetable garden with a layer of straw or shredded leaves. This will help keep hardy weeds from taking over. In the spring, you may be able to plant directly through the mulch without the need for tilling.

A Christmas cactus develops buds when night temperatures are 55 to 60 degrees (F). If nights are warmer, place your plant where it receives no light from about 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. (such as in a closet) for 30 days. Move the plant to a sunny location during the day. Don’t forget it!

It's time to bring hoses inside or drain them if you leave them outside. If the ground is frozen, the water in your outdoor hoses will be too. If so, bring them into a garage where they can warm up enough for the ice to melt. Then coil them and store for the winter. Avoid hanging them on a hook, which can cause kinking.

When the ground freezes, it's time to mulch tender perennials, newly planted trees and shrubs, roses, and other plants that need protection. Use straw, hay, compost, evergreen boughs, leaves (except for maple which easily compact), bark chips, or whatever else may be available locally that doesn't mat down too much. If burrowing rodents are a potential problem, leave a 2-inch gap between the mulch and tree trunks so the critters can't feed under cover all winter.

Ceramic and clay pots left outside can crack when the soil inside freezes and expands. Empty them and bring them into a shed, garage, or basement for winter. Also bring in ceramic birdbaths and statuary.  If too large to move, empty and cover with a tarp.

If your birdbath is within an extension cord's reach of your outdoor outlet, you can provide drinking water for winter birds by using a birdbath heater. It keeps the water slightly above freezing. Just be sure you don't run over the cord with your snow blower.

(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist, author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com). 

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