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November in the garden

Winter bedding plants

Keep busy in the garden in November

It’s getting chillier, darker but hardened gardeners know that there’s plenty to keep us occupied in the garden throughout November.

At this time of year, we get to enjoy the bright colours of falling leaves and the winter-flowering plants coming into their own – so wrap up warm and get outside!


Here are our top 10 jobs to protect your garden and keep some colour throughout the cold months:

  • Protect outdoor containers, pots and tender plants at the first sign of frost by covering with bubble wrap, horticulture fleece, hessian or straw and securing with twine. If we’re expecting longer periods of mild weather, temporarily remove coverings to avoid sweating or mould building up on your plants.
  • Newly planted shrubs and roses can be damaged by wind rock, particularly in unsheltered areas so prune back, taking around a third of the plant to help them cope with heavy winds and more extreme weather.
  • Although lawns growth is mostly dormant over winter, piles of leaves left on grass can block light and left for weeks on end, can kill your grass. Rake and bag up your leaves for them to rot separately from other matter.
  • Raise containers from patios, paths or decking using pot feet or bricks to avoid waterlogging and compost freezing.
  • Plant winter flowering plants, like polyanthus, winter pansies and primroses. We all need a bit of colour to cheer us up when the dreary winter months set in.
  • Tidy away fallen leaves from rose bushes that have suffered from blackspot this year to prevent reinfection.
  • Cut back your perennials just above the ground and mulch to protect from frost and prevent the weeds from growing through.
  • Tulip bulbs can still be planted in November ready to bloom in spring next year. Choose a sunny spot with good drainage and plant 2- 3 times their depth, making sure the shoot is facing upwards.
  • If you haven’t already, lift dahlia tubers, begonias tubers and gladiolus corms to store over winter. Make sure all dead foliage is removed and clean and dry off as much as possible. Store in cool, dry compost.
  • Make sure to keep your bird feeders filled with high energy food and bird baths topped up as their natural food source supplies deplete over winter.

In the fruit and veg patch:

  • If the ground isn’t too wet and before it becomes frosted over, November is a great time to plant new fruit bushes and trees.
  • If it’s mild, hardy broad beans can be sown now for an early crop.
  • You can carry on planting onion, shallot and garlic sets ready to be harvested next summer. They’re relatively easy to grow and cold tolerant.
  • Salad leaves can be sown at this time of year on a sunny windowsill for fresh salad pickings over winter.
  • Some varieties of hardy spring onion can be sown at this time of year. Protect over winter with cloches or in a greenhouse.
  • Stake top-heavy growing vegetables, like Brussel sprouts and broccoli to reduce damage in heavy winds.
  • Remove any yellowed leaves on Brussels sprouts and other brassicas.
  • Parsnips can be left in the ground until you’re ready for them.
  • Clear out any waste from your veg patch that is now past its best. Be careful not to compost any diseased plants that you come across.
  • Weed and dig over organic materials in unused veg plots to get the spot ready for your next lot of vegetables.

If you find you’ve got time on your hands, now is a good opportunity for some general maintenance: checking, cleaning and repairing tools, cleaning unused pots and bamboo canes, tidying around the greenhouse and giving the garden a good old sweep. You’ll be thankful you got the odd jobs out of the way when you get in full swing of preparing for spring.