The second week of November is when gardeners need to take advantage of any dry days to make a final mowing and edging of the lawn. The reward will be a neat and tidy look all winter as there is no need to mow during the months of December, January and most of February. If you have not yet added lime or a fall fertilizer to your lawn, this is the month to stop procrastinating.
Q. Is it too late to prune my boxwood hedge? T.T., Tacoma
A. No, pick a cloudy day and trim off a few inches, shaping your boxwood as you go. You can also prune yew hedges in November as both of these evergreens are tough enough to handle a haircut before the winter sets in. Tip: collect the pruning crumbs by laying down a tarp or old sheet around the plants before you get snippy. The fall cleanup of cut branches will help prevent foliage fungal infections.
Q. I have read that fall is the time to dig and divide lily bulbs. Is November too late to do this job? My lilies have been in the same spot for years and this past summer they had hardly any blooms but lots of green side shoots popping up near the mother plant. P, Email
A. It is not too late to dig and pull apart the summer-blooming lily bulbs. Just wait until the foliage on the tall stems has turned yellow or brown, which tells you the bulbs have gone dormant. Next, uproot the entire clump and carefully pull apart the smaller bulbs from the large mother bulb. Cut off the top growth and replant the young bulbs immediately, spacing them at least one foot apart. It may take these young bulblets a few years of growing foliage before they are large enough to produce blooms so be patient. Tip: divide lily bulbs on a dry day to help prevent mold growth on the exposed young tubers. Good drainage in loose soil is key but you can also pot up the young bulbs into plastic pots filled with potting soil. Cover lily bulbs with at least six inches of soil.
Q. My neighbor has a camellia that flowers in the winter and is just now starting to bloom. She says that some years it is in bloom for Christmas. She has no idea what the name of this camellia is but the flowers are red. Can you help me find one of these camellias? B.H., Tacoma
A. What a great excuse to visit a nursery this month. The winter-flowering camellias are called Sasanqua camellias and these evergreen shrubs have shiny green leaves all year with a spreading or bush-like growth habit. The size and shape of the winter-blooming camellia depends on the particular variety. Most Sasanquas can handle full sun in our climate, so training them to grow against a wall that is warmed by winter sunshine is the perfect place to showcase the winter blooms. My favorite Sasanqua camellia is called Yuletide, as it is not only covered with red blossoms in fall and winter but also boasts a compact and upright growth form. Tip: find a spot for this camellia near the front entry so the flowers and falling petals can welcome holiday guests.
Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens” and several other books. For book requests or answers to gardening questions, write to her at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply.