Finish up the task of planting annuals not completed in October. Keep a close watch on them to be sure that they are getting sufficient water.
All the warm season grasses grown in this area are likely completely dormant by the end of the month. Use the lawn mower to chop up fallen leaves and leave off the bagger. This free fertilizer will benefit the turf and the trees. Check the mower to be sure all proper maintenance has been done prior to storing it for the winter. If repairs are going to be needed, winter is a good time to carry it to the small engine repair shop as business is slower. You’ll beat the spring rush, and can relax for the season.
Resist the temptation to cut back any perennials that are going dormant that isn’t completely brown and dry. Cutting into foliage that is still wet and green can allow diseases to get into the plant. Lantana and verbena shouldn’t be cut back at all in the fall. Both of these plants have hollow stems. By cutting them, you will allow water to get inside the plant. It’s not the cold that kills them, it’s a disease. Instead, wait until you see new growth emerge in the spring to prune these two plants back. If you have any terracotta planters outside, protect them by emptying them and storing the cleaned pots inside for the winter.
Do not fertilize roses this time of year. If you have recently transplanted a rose, be sure to keep it watered.
This is still a good month to plant and transplant shrubs. Mulch around the shrubs to a depth of three inches. Be sure to keep mulch off the trunk of the shrubs. Mulch that lies against the stem or trunk of a plant can hold too much moisture and cause a fungal disease to infect the plant. Water regularly while roots are getting established. Winter winds will dry out plants just like they do our skin. Just because its not hot, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to water plants. In fact, if the forecast is for freezing temperatures, make a point of watering prior to the freeze. Plants are better able to withstand freezing temperatures when they have plenty of water in their cell tissues. Do not prune now.
Fallen leaves are a treasure trove of free fertilizer and mulch for your plants. Use the lawn mower to chop them into smaller pieces and leave on the lawn or use the leaves in the compost bin. They also make excellent mulch in flower beds. They will add organic matter to the soil, improve drainage, and encourage good microbes. If you are thinking about adding new trees to your landscape, now is a good time to do some research.