New England

November, 2005
Regional Report

Don't Prune Subshrubs

Some woody perennials -- technically called subshrubs -- such as butterfly bush, lavender, thyme, and heather, can be damaged or killed if you prune in fall. Leave the stems as is, protect them with mulch over the winter, and prune in spring.

Remove Rose Leaves

Rose foliage can harbor insects and diseases, both on the shrub and on the ground. Pull off any rose leaves that are still hanging on, and rake up fallen leaves and bury them all away from the garden or dispose of them in the trash.

Pot Up Bulbs

All you need to force bulbs indoors is a place that stays cool but above freezing -- 32 to 50 degrees. Pot up daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, and other bulbs that need a cold treatment, and water them well. For the best show, don't mix different types of bulbs in one pot unless you're sure they bloom at about the same time. Then place the pots in cool storage for about 12 to 16 weeks. Check on them periodically and water when the soil is dry. At the end of the cool treatment, bring them into a 50- to 65-degree location for two weeks to allow a good root system to form, then bring pots into brighter light and warmer temperatures, keeping them well watered. Once in flower, keep the pots away from heat and direct sun to prolong the blooms.

Protect Tree Trunks

To prevent sunscald and frost cracking on young, thin-barked trees, such as maples, wrap the trunks with tree wrap or paint the south- and southwest-facing sides of the trunk with white, outdoor, latex paint. This will reflect the warming rays of the sun so the tree bark doesn't heat up on winter days, only to be suddenly cooled when the sun sets and the temperature plummets.

Empty Soil From Outdoor Pots

If you have any clay or ceramic pots that you keep outside or in a cold location during the winter, empty them of soil, which will freeze and expand and, most likely, crack the pot. Keep the soil to use to fill the bottoms of large planters next year. That way you won't need as much fresh soil.

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