University of Vermont
Department of Plant and Soil Science

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POTTING AMARYLLIS AND OTHER NOVEMBER GARDENING TIPS

Leonard Perry, UVM Horticulturist
and Charlie Nardozzi, Garden Consultant

Potting amaryllis for holiday blooms, planting spring bulbs and garlic, and putting out a heated birdbath are some of the gardening activities for this month.

After their dry summer rest period, watch for signs of shoot growth on amaryllis. That signals it's time to pot them up or, if already potted, to resume watering. Use a pot only slightly larger than the bulb diameter. Set a bulb into moistened potting mix so one-half to one-third of the bulb protrudes above the soil. Place the pot in a warm well-lit spot, and don't water it again until the first leaf or flower shoot starts to grow.

You can buy amaryllis bulbs now, too, to pot for Christmas blooms.  Figure on five to seven weeks from potting bulbs until buds begin opening.

Before snow flies and the ground freezes, November is your last chance to plant garlic bulbs, to dig gladiolus to store indoors over winter, and to plant fall bulbs for blooms next spring.  If you don’t get your spring-blooming bulbs planted, pot them, then store indoors in a cool place (40 degrees is ideal, as in a spare refrigerator or cold root cellar), just don’t let them freeze.  Then, any time after 12 weeks you can bring into warmth indoors to force into bloom.
   
Bring in birdbaths for winter if they’re unheated.  Birdbaths can be found at many complete garden stores with such heating elements build in to keep the water above freezing.  Or, you can buy heaters to set in them just for this purpose.  Just keep in mind that these should be plugged into properly grounded outdoor receptacles.  Check the water every few days as, depending on the weather, it can all evaporate.  It can be fouled so make sure that birds have fresh water if so.  Birds need water during winter, and there may be few other sources nearby.
   
If your landscape is looking a bit drab this time of year and you’d like to add some color, you can with shrubs with colorful red fruits like hollies, or colorful stems like the shrub dogwoods.  While you “may” still find these at garden outlets and nurseries now, often on sale, you may need to just research these now for planting next spring.  If you do find and buy some, you can plant now—the sooner the better. 
   
There are several red (or yellow) stemmed shrub dogwoods that are easy to grow and are quite hardy.  Although most have the vividly-colored stems in late winter, the cultivar (cultivated variety) Baton Rouge for me is quite red this time of year too. 
   
For hollies with red berries, don’t get lured with the evergreen American and Chinese ones that you see in ads and at national chain stores, unless you garden in a warmer zone than northern New England.  There are a few cultivars that may survive cold if under snow cover and grow into USDA zone 5 (-10 to -20 degrees F)—the “blue hollies” with their darker blue-green leaves.  ‘Blue Boy’ and ‘Blue Girl’ have been around the longest, but look other newer ones such as ‘Blue Prince’ or ‘Blue Princess’.
   
There are the related “deciduous” (lose their leaves in winter) hollies—winterberries—that you can plant even in cold climates.  They grow well in wet areas too.  Like all hollies, they need a male plant planted near several female in order for the latter to bear red fall berries.
   
Other gardening tips for this month include leaving asparagus stalks to trap snow, cleaning and storing garden tools, draining and storing garden hoses, stocking up on bird seed during sales, and storing pesticides where they won’t freeze. 

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

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