To-Do List for November

Here’s a zone-by-zone to-do list for the month of November.

October 25, 2011

Zone 3

  • If rainfall has been light, deeply water trees and shrubs before the ground freezes.
  • To successfully overwinter half-hardy plants (such as azaleas, rhododendrons, and butterfly bushes), surround them with a wire cage and cover them with a thick layer of dry leaves.
  • Force a few bulbs for indoor winter color; plant half now and half in 2 weeks for a longer show.
  • Check stored tubers, bulbs, potatoes, onions, and garlic for spoilage and softness.
  • Winterize all power tools before storing.
  • Sharpen, clean, and repair hand tools before storing them.
  • Clean and fill bird feeders.

Zone 4


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  • Rid the garden of plant debris that might allow diseases and pests to survive the winter.
  • Wrap the trunks of young trees to protect their tender bark from winter injury.
  • Don't remove snow and ice from evergreens—rescue efforts may do more harm than good.
  • Clean up all dropped fruit and other debris from beneath fruit trees.
  • Cut lawn grass short now—tall grasses can become moldy beneath snow cover.
  • After the ground freezes, cover perennials with mulch to keep frost-thaw cycles from heaving them out of the ground.
  • Turn the compost pile and add water if it feels dry.

Zone 5

  • Plant garlic cloves and shallots 2 inches deep and 4 inches apart; mulch with 6 inches of straw or shredded leaves.
  • Dig up remaining root crops.
  • Still time to haul in a pot of parsley: Pot it, water well, and set in a bright window.
  • Don't remove chrysanthemum foliage—leave it to protect the crown.
  • Cut back other perennials (except spring bloomers, roses, and grasses) to a few inches above soil level.
  • Prune tea roses back to 8 to 12 inches high, mound compost around the bud union, then cover with a rose cone.
  • Dig the hole for planting live Christmas trees now—before the soil freezes.

Zone 6

  • Finish cleanup—gather leaves for the compost pile or for winter mulch on beds.
  • Don't miss your last chance to plant spring-blooming bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips.
  • Continue to thin lettuce and spinach.
  • Mulch crops you want to overwinter with a thick layer of straw.
  • Harvest frost-sweetened Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, and kale.
  • Don't cut back ornamental grasses; they add beauty to the landscape and provide shelter for overwintering beneficials and wildlife.
  • Cut back other perennials (except spring bloomers, roses, and mums) to a few inches above soil level.

Zone 7

  • Cover lettuce, chard, spinach, sorrel, chives, and parsley with floating row covers, before the first hard freeze.
  • Continue to plant trees and shrubs.
  • Set out new strawberries or move rooted runners early this month.
  • Sow poppy seeds now for flowers next May.
  • Gather leaves to add to the compost pile or to shred and use as winter mulch.
  • Pot up a clump of mint, let it freeze one time, then bring it indoors for snipping throughout the winter.
  • Feed leeks, then hill up soil around them to begin the blanching process.

Zone 8

  • Fruit trees will arrive at nurseries for fall planting; shop early for the best selection.
  • Harvest cold-sensitive veggies—such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers—that you planted in July.
  • Under row covers, plant cool-loving crops, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, peas, carrots, kale, radishes, mustard, turnips, beets, and spinach.
  • Plant more cilantro, parsley, and fennel.
  • Plant strawberries (‘Chandler', ‘Sweet Charlie', and ‘Sequoia') so plants will be established by spring.
  • Sow seeds of poppies, larkspur, and delphiniums for early spring color.

Zone 9

  • Pull up tomato plants, roots and all, to hang in a protected place; pick fruits as they ripen.
  • Plant prechilled spring-flowering bulbs early this month.
  • Plant garlic, shallots, fava beans, onion sets, and leeks.
  • Harvest Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, turnips, collards, and kale after frost sweetens their flavor.
  • Cover spinach and lettuce with floating row covers to protect them from frost.
  • Broadcast wildflower seed, then lightly rake it in, for a bright spring show.
  • Spread compost or composted manure around citrus trees to encourage spring growth and blossoming.

Zone 10

  • See that the garden receives at least an inch of water a week (from either rainfall or you).
  • If a freeze is predicted, soak the ground (not the plants), then cover everything with straw, row covers, or protective material.
  • Plant successive runs of tender, fast-growing greens, such as cilantro and chervil.
  • Harvest beans, peas, lettuce, squashes, carrots, cucumbers, early melons, and kale.
  • Continue to harvest ripening fruit; clean up unusable fruits that fall to prevent disease.
  • Continue to start tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, but be prepared to protect tender seedlings from cold.
  • Cut back raspberries.
  • Feed roses some low-nitrogen, organic fertilizer.
  • Plant callas, gladioli, and dahlias for spring and summer bloom.


Learn more about cleaning up the garden in fall.