November – December Gardening Tips

Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle in November and December.


• Houseplants are semi-dormant now and do not need much water. Over-watering is the #1 killer of houseplants. Remember to keep the leaves of these plants clean by dusting and wiped them down.

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

• Cut back cannas and discard foliage.

• Once chrysanthemums die back, cut the stems to 2-3 inches above the soil.

• After frost, you can cut perennials to the ground and clean up the beds but remember to leave some of these up for wildlife. Make sure to add a winter mulch. If you label dormant plants now, you’ll know where to find them in the spring.

• You can continue to plant spring-flowering bulbs now that the soil temperature is below 60 degrees – usually in November.

• You can continue to transplant and move perennials throughout the fall and early winter.

• When your Christmas cactus blooms, remember to keep it in bright light and reduce watering to extend the blooming period.

• Plant bulbs in containers for an indoor bloom in winter.


• 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.

• Plant asparagus.

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

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


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

• Continue to keep the leaves and plant debris off your lawn, especially if you reseeded. Put the leaves in your compost pile.

• Remember the grass still needs water if the weather is dry. Fescue grass is at its peak with cooler temperature.

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

• Remember to disconnect your water hoses and drain your sprinkler system before the cold days of winter arrive.

Trees and Shrubs

• Cut back suckers from crape myrtles.

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

• 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.

• Continue to water outdoor woody plants.


• 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.

• 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.

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