Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Discontinue Deadheading Roses
If you haven't already done so, stop deadheading roses now. No more applications of fertilizer and cut back on water, too. No pruning either as it encourages plants to grow. Allow the plants to go into a natural period of dormancy prior to the heavy pruning in January. Remove fallen foliage from under the plants to prevent insect pests from over wintering in the soil.
Wash Summer-Weary Plants
Remove accumulated dust and dirt from shrubs and low evergreen trees by washing them with a rain head hose end fitting. Washing plants will remove insect pests such as white fly, mealy bug and aphid. Dust is also an invitation to spider mites. When you are washing plants, make sure to wash the underside of the foliage to eliminate any hidden pests. Dirt left on the foliage will also bring in sooty mold.
Dig and Divide Perennials
If you have large clumps of agapanthus, dietes, hemerocallis or aspidistra, late fall is the ideal time to dig and divide. Cool weather and short days make it easy for the new plants to recover without stress. Use a shovel with a sharpened blade to remove the plants from the soil. Once you have the clump out of the ground, divide into several pieces with a pruning saw or serrated kitchen knife. Make sure each divided piece has both roots and foliage. Remove yellow or damaged foliage to enhance the appearance of the new plants. Less-than-perfect leaves will inhibit the ability of the plant to recover. Plant the new prepared divisions back in the ground or in containers.
Save Fallen Leaves
Autumn is when the leaves fall from the trees. Don't throw nature's bounty in the trash; instead, add them to your compost pile. Liquidambar, maple, sycamore and fruit trees are an invaluable source of nutrients for your garden. In the wild, leaves decompose naturally on the ground, enriching the soil under the trees. You can do the same thing, while retaining the beauty of your garden, by composting leaf litter. Pile leaves on the ground, then run your lawn mower back and forth to shred them into smaller bits. Then add them to your compost pile, alternating layers of dry leaves with green grass clippings and organic kitchen waste. Keep the compost pile damp and turn it occasionally for best results.
Last Call for Cactus Watering
If you keep cactus plants indoors, November is the end of the watering season. Give the plants one good last soaking drink before allowing them to go completely dry and dormant for the rest of the winter. When you begin to see new growth in the early spring, resume watering and fertilize with low acid, or slightly alkaline, product. You will be rewarded with a flush of blooms!