While the weather is still mild remove summer bedding plants that have finished and replace them with autumn/winter bedding plants. This can include pansies, violas, bellis, wallflowers, polyanthus etc. There’s still time to plants bulbs, especially tulips.
Bare-root hedging plants such as Privet and Hawthorn can be planted now, whilst there’s still some warmth in the soil. New season roses are usually available from October onwards as well as new stocks of raspberries.
Protect against Frost
It’s a good idea to get some fleece ready to put over tender plants such as Phormiums, Cordylines, Hebe, Bananas, Tree ferns, so that they’re protected if we get a sudden frost.
Keep neat and tidy
Clean up leaves that have fallen from deciduous shrubs and trees, also tidy up any damaged leaves on herbaceous perennials. Cut back stems of herbaceous perennials that have now finished for the year, leaving about 15cm to protect the crowns over winter. Reduce stem lengths on roses to prevent them rocking and loosening in the winds. Once cleaned up borders can be mulched with compost, wellrotted manure or bark.
Check that greenhouse heaters are working to avoid any last minute panic. Drain down hosepipes and water features which aren’t going to be used in winter, to prevent damage by frosts.
Don’t forget the birds this autumn/winter – there’s a good range of foods and feeders available that will keep all types of birds happy, and remember that once it freezes, birds still need a supply of fresh water.
This Christmas why not give a living gift? There’s a vast range of flowering houseplants for sale such as Azalea, Kalanchoe, Cyclamen and Orchids. Planted arrangements in bowls and baskets make excellent gifts.
Christmas plants can provide colour during the winter months. With proper care, they will live for several months. Water less than you would during the summer, and stop feeding. Never allow plants to stand in water for longer than 15 minutes. Plants with showy flowers and fruits need good light, so do not put them in a dark position for long periods of time. Avoid drafts and locations where temperatures are likely to fluctuate greatly. If plants are very close to windows, remove them at night to prevent chilling.
One of the most delightful Christmas plants is the Poinsettia. With its bright bracts it gives instant colour to a room. These are available from the end of November. Always buy Poinsettias from a reputable supplier – never from the street or supermarket. They like good light during the day and a warm room at all times. Only water when the soil is dry and never stand in water for longer than 10 minutes. Did you know that in the USA, December 12th is National Poinsettia Day? The date marks the death in 1851 of Joel Roberts Poinsett who introduced Poinsettias from Mexico to the USA.
From the end of November, fresh Christmas trees will be available. Proper care of your Christmas tree is essential to guard against loss of moisture, colour, and needle drop. If possible put the tree in a stand or pot that can be kept moist at all times. Keeping the base of the tree moist whilst inside allows the tree to absorb water rapidly, as moisture is lost due to warm room temperatures and dry atmospheres. Make sure the tree is away from sources of heat such as radiators, open fires and TV sets.