Gardening Tips

In The Garden – November-December gardening tips

Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle.


• Now is the best time to plant spring bulbs like anemones, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and crocuses. Add a bulb fertilizer or bone meal to each hole to promote good root development.

• Houseplants are semi-dormant now and do not need much water. Over-watering is the #1 killer of houseplants.

• Cut roses back to waist high so the roots stay in place when the winter winds blow.

• Mulch any new plants and replenish mulch on others.

• This is still a good time to transplant and divide plants as the top growth is dormant and plants are working on their root systems. Use only a slow release fertilizer this time of year to avoid new top growth. Keep the plants watered before and after you move them.

• Hang on to your amaryllis. You can plant it in the garden in spring.

Fruits and Vegetables

• Clean up the summer edible garden. Plant debris often includes fungi, bacteria, and insect eggs.

• Plant fruit trees now while soils are cool, but wait until spring to plant strawberries, blueberries, grapes and blackberries.

• Plant asparagus.

• Have your soil tested through your county extension office and get a jump on next season.

• Continue to harvest your winter vegetable garden. Provide protection in icy weather with layers of wheat straw or row cover material, a lightweight spun polyester fabric, sold in different lengths and thicknesses that can be used to shield your plants from too much sun or freezing temperatures.


• Remember this tip for fertilizing cool season lawns (fescue, bluegrass). Fertilize around Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.

• Keep leaves off the lawn, put these in your compost pile.

• Watch for cool season weeds – chickweed, hairy bittercress, henbit – and treat by removal or post-emergent herbicide.

Trees and Shrubs

• Now is the time to plant trees, shrubs and fruit trees to give the roots a chance to develop and withstand the heat of next summer.

• Delay pruning until late winter, except for minor shaping and to remove dead or diseased wood.

• Continue to water plants, especially new plantings or containers, if the weather is dry and not below freezing.

• Cut the suckers from crape myrtles.


• When shrubs and evergreens go dormant, spray them with horticultural oil to kill any pests and eggs or fungal spores that are overwintering on them.

• Be on the lookout for cool season mites on junipers, conifers, azaleas, hollies, and camellias. Infested leaves turn gray or brown and may fall prematurely. Heavily infested shrubs and conifers may die. Visit for treatment options.

For a complete list of garden maintenance activities, visit the NC Cooperative Extension web site at

For lawn care go to the NC State Turf Files at