Forcing growth makes shrubs vulnerable to winter damage | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

Forcing growth makes shrubs vulnerable to winter damage | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

Binetti answers questions about moving fall plants out of their pots and adding lime to lawn.

The first part of November is no time to prune or rest on your laurels. English laurels and other broad leaf evergreen shrubs such as rhododendrons are slipping into winter dormancy and pruning always stimulates growth. Forcing out new growth makes shrubs more vulnerable to winter damage.

You can still dig and divide some summer flowering perennials such as daylilies during the month of November and continue to transplant and move around evergreen shrubs. This is a good time to plant garlic cloves in the vegetable garden and cut back any herbaceous peony plants to soil level. Removing the peony foliage now will help prevent fungal diseases that appear as dark spots on the new foliage.

Q. I bought budded mum plants for fall decorating and the chrysanthemums still look great in my container gardens, but I do want to move these fall plants out of their pots on the front porch as soon as they finish flowering. Do I prune them back when I move them into the garden bed or wait until spring? J., Puyallup

A. Make the cut on your fall flowering mums as soon as they are finished flowering. You can cut potted mums back to six-inch stumps and then transplant them into a spot in the landscape that enjoys full sun and good drainage.

Don’t be surprised if that pot of mums turns out to be a collection of four of five individual mum plants rather than one large clump. Just pull apart the smaller plants and space them 12 to 18 inches apart in the garden. Add a mulch on top of the soil to protect the newly transplanted mums from a hard frost before they have time to settle in.

You can also prune back any chrysanthemums growing in the ground as soon as the flowers fade. Be warned that some of the ornamental mums sold as gift plants are greenhouse grown and not as hardy for outdoor use as the more traditional garden mum with smaller blooms.

Q. Is it too late to add lime to my lawn? I have a lot of moss and I heard moss kills moss. G.H., Auburn

A. You can spread lime on your lawn any time of year but fall is a good time because the winter rains will help wash this soil additive down to the grass roots.

Lime does not kill moss nor is lime considered a fertilizer. Lime comes in different forms and types and some work more quickly than others to change the acidity or PH of the soil.

Moss loves the acid soil that occurs naturally in rainy Western Washington and over time, after several years the addition of lime to your soil will help to neutralize the acidity. Lime can also help break up soils with poor drainage but again, with lime it takes time.

Q. When can I move my peony plant? It has stopped blooming due to increased shade and I do know that peonies should only be planted and transplanted in the fall. I just don’t know how late in the fall I can wait to do the job. S.C., Olympia

A. November is a good month to add new peony roots and to dig in and move your established plants if necessary. Peonies are one of the few perennials that hate to be dug up and divided and can stay in the same spot for decades.

Your lack of peony blooms could be from more shade but the most common reason that peonies fail to flower is that they are planted too deep – often after years of adding a mulch to the soil or due to falling leaves that create a natural mulch, the top of the peony plant becomes covered with an inch or so of soil and stops blooming. Scrape away the extra mulch in the spring so that the peony tuber is just barely covered with soil.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

Johlesa Orm is a senior at Lindbergh High School and will be honored as part of the 2022 WA State STEM Signing Day, sponsored by Boeing.
Guest column: Using computer science to solve big problems

By Johlesa Orm, For the Renton Reporter

2021 Toyota Corolla XSE
Car review: 2021 Toyota Corolla XSE

By Larry Lark, contributor Hatchbacks are all about versatility and fun. The… Continue reading

2021 Mazda CX-30 Crossover
Car review: 2021 Mazda CX-30 Crossover

By Larry Lark, contributor The Mazda CX-30 Crossover made its North American… Continue reading

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
Car review: 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

By Larry Lark, contributor The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport full-size SUV has… Continue reading

2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport
Car review: 2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

By Larry Lark, contributor The 2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport is… Continue reading

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS
Car review: 2021 Chevy Trailblazer RS

By Larry Lark, contributor Chevy’s 2021 Trailblazer is an entry-level, compact SUV… Continue reading

2022 Telluride Nightfall Edition
Car review: 2022 Kia Telluride

By Larry Lark, contributor Big, bold and boxy, that’s the newly tweaked… Continue reading

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland
Car review: 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland

By Larry Lark, contributor With almost 30 years and four generations under… Continue reading

2022 Mini Cooper S 2-door. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2022 Mini Cooper S 2-door

By Larry Lark, contributor They don’t come around very often, but when… Continue reading

2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph
Car review: 2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph

By Larry Lark, contributor If you want your SUV to make a… Continue reading

2021 Genesis GV80 Prestige
Car review: 2021 Genesis GV80 Prestige

By Larry Lark, contributor Genesis is branching out. With the introduction of… Continue reading