November Newsletter 2019
November Gardening in the Greater Jacksonville Beaches area!
FALL IS FOR PLANTING!
What To Plant and What To Do
This is the gardening calendar created just for you, so you know exactly what to do in your yard or property this time of year. You can print this or save it as a Word document to add notes to track what you’ve done each month. You might consider occasionally noting the weather or what’s inbloom.
USDA Cold Hardiness Zone 9 (Average minimum temperature 20°)
AHS Plant Heat Zone 7 or 8 (Both zones occur in the Jacksonville Beach area) Zone 7 (61-90 days with temperatures >86°)
Zone 8 (91-120 days with temperatures >86°)
November’s Climate Data:
Average Total Precipitation: 2.70″
Average High Temperature: 72.5°
Average Low Temperature: 57.7°
Average First Frost Date for the season: Dec. 11 to Dec. 20.
Northern Florida usually gets between 400 and 600 hours of chilling (the number of hours a plant is exposed to winter temperatures between 32° and 45°). This is a guide to help you choose varieties of bulbs, fruit shrubs and fruit and nut trees that require a certain number of chilling hours to grow and fruit.
What to Plant
A great variety of plants can be planted in our area this time of year.
Annuals (Or Grown As Annuals): This is a good time to refresh flower beds with cool season annuals. The beds can be enriched with organic matter at the same time. Chrysanthemums will brighten the landscape for several months. We have many colors and sizes. See our handout on Chrysanthemums. CLICK HERE for tips on how to keep them flowering longer and prettier. Supertunias and lobularia are also favorite flowers for this time of year. Other great options are marigolds, million bells (Calibrachoa), snapdragons, dianthus, lobelia, nasturtiums, ornamental cabbage/kale, giant red mustard, ornamental pepper, gazania, nemesia, diascia, dusty miller, verbena, wallflower (Erysimum), pansy and viola. Seeds of delphinium, bachelor’s buttons and sweet pea can be sown. Take the guesswork out of containers and purchase one of our pre-planted combinations of colorful fall flowers.
Perennials: Noteworthy perennials are shasta daisy, asters, black-eyed Susan, coneflower, coreopsis, goldenrod, Russian sage, ornamental grasses such as muhlygrass, salvias, Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), Texas sage, Mexican petunia (Ruellia), cigar plant (Cuphea ignea), baby sunrose (Aptenia), firecracker plant (Russelia), lantana, blue daze (Evolvulus), African daisy (Osteospermum), milkweed (Asclepias), blanket flower (Gaillardia), dune sunflower (Helianthus), African and Regina irises, agapanthus, foxtail fern, holly fern, autumn fern, purple queen (Tradescantia), society garlic, and Mexican heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia). It’s a good time to plant many of the bulb lilies that grow in this area, particularly crinum, kaffir, sprekelia, amaryllis, spider lily and daylily.
Vines: Passion vine (Passiflora), blue sky vine (Thunbergia), confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), yellow butterfly vine (Mascagnia), crossvine (Bignonia), native wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), railroad vine (Ipomoea) and coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) can be planted.
Groundcovers: These include bugleweed (Ajuga), perennial peanut (Arachis), ivies (Hedera), mondo grass (Ophiopogon), liriope, creeping fig (Ficus), flax lily (Dianella), sunshine mimosa and Asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum).
Shrubs and Trees: As temperatures cool, it is also a great time to plant most shrubs and trees. Make sure the root ball is moist before planting. If the fall and winter is dry, be sure to keep evergreen types watered since they are especially prone to winter desiccation. Plant trees like crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia) and those with good fall color such as dogwood (Cornus), Chinese pistache (Pistacia), red maple (Acer) and bald cypress (Taxodium). Camellias have started to bloom. See our Camellia Variety list CLICK HERE for descriptions of the many types available. Winter cassia and thryallis have bright yellow blooms and tibouchina has purple blooms. Other shrubs include plumbago, bush daisy (Euryops), firespike (Odontonema), firebush (Hamelia), gardenia ‘August Beauty’, ‘Soft Caress’ and ‘Winter Sun’ mahonias, porterweed (Stachytarpheta), and bluebeard (Caryopteris). Although it may need some protection later, croton is a great shrub for fall color, especially in combination plantings. The native beautyberry (Callicarpa) is still carrying its bright purple berries. Planting hollies and pyracantha can provide attractive holiday berries which are also appreciated by wildlife. When you plant, remember to ‘Dial Before You Dig’ (811) if the hole is deeper than your shovel blade.
Vegetables and Herbs: Cool season vegetable crops include lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, kale, arugula, beets, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Bok choy, endive, cauliflower, broccoli, collards, Swiss chard and leeks. Beets like moisture and consistently cool temperatures; brussels sprouts need cool to cold weather. Root crops like carrots, radishes and turnips should be started from seed in the garden or transplanted in decomposable pots. It’s time to plant onion sets and transplants. Some of these vegetables, like spinach, carrots, kale and Swiss chard, can survive in your garden all winter. See our handout Planting Guide for North Florida Vegetables for vegetable growing information. CLICK HERE!
Since they are grown as an annual crop here because of our summer heat, strawberries are planted September through November. Outside of Florida, most strawberry plants are grown over several years (perennial) so appropriate guidelines to grow them here are difficult to find in the general information base. Plant in mounds or otherwise well-draining soil that is also high in organic matter. Without a soil sample, mix 1-2 pounds per 100 square feet of a balanced ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium 6″ into the soil before planting. At least one-half of the nitrogen in the fertilizer should be in a slow release form. If you prefer growing organic strawberries, blood meal can be used to increase nitrogen, bone meal can be used to increase phosphates and a wood ash mulch can be added for potassium. Mulch with pine straw needles to increase soil acidity and keep fruit clean. Too much N causes malformed fruit, excessive vegetative growth and fewer fruits. Excess K leads to smaller and fewer fruits. Boron is a micronutrient that may be deficient in your soil for strawberries. Remove runners as you notice them start to develop. This will direct more energy to berry production.
Herbs to plant now are bay laurel, dill, cilantro, chives and rosemary. Herbs planted now and some previously planted in your garden which will grow through winter and withstand freezing temperatures are parsley, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, some mints, oregano, rosemary, garden sage, and thyme. Now is a good time to take cuttings from your Stevia to grow indoors for planting out next spring. Basil dies at about 40° but can be grown indoors as a window-sill plant. See our handouts Planting Guide for North Florida Culinary Herbs CLICK HERE! and Herbs for North Florida CLICK HERE!, for more growing and use information.
What to Do
Irrigate – When we come off Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, Nov 3, 2019, regulations will change back to once weekly irrigation with odd numbered addresses watering on Saturdays, even on Sundays, and nonresidential on Tuesdays. Irrigation is allowed only outside the hours of 10 am to 4 pm. Rainfall is usually lower this time of year and plants are slowing down their growth.
Irrigation systems should be checked at least monthly for breaks or misaligned spray heads. Also keep in mind that your irrigation system should be set to accommodate plantings differently than for turf. If you’ve watered your winter tender plants correctly over the summer, they will more likely come through a hard winter unscathed. Rockaway, Inc.’s Maintenance Service Division can evaluate the operation and delivery of your irrigation system for turf and plantings.
Mow: Grass grows slowly now but continue mowing as needed; mowing also helps remove fallen leaves from the ground. Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at a time and set your mower to the highest recommended height to support root growth. Here are the recommended mowing heights for several N. Florida grasses: Bahiagrass at 3 to 4″, Zoysiagrass coarse textured varieties at 2 to 2½” and fine textured at 1″, Centipedegrass at 1½ to 2½”, Seashore Paspalum at 1½ to 2″, and St. Augustinegrass at 2½” for dwarf and semi-dwarf cultivars such as Delmar, Seville and Captiva, and 3.5 to 4″ for standard St. Augustinegrass, especially if growing in shade. To maintain at a height of 4″, grass should be mowed before it grows to a height above 6″.
Sharpen mower blades frequently, even monthly, to avoid damage to the grass which could allow disease to enter. Avoid mowing when grass is wet.
Prune: General dead-heading of annuals and perennials is helpful any time of year. Don’t prune shrubs that flower on old wood (spring flowering shrubs) to avoid removing next year’s blossoms.
Fertilize: While the recommendation for most lawns is to have completed the final lawn fertilization for the year by now, some may benefit from a low nitrogen fertilizer such as a 5-0-15, 5-0-20 or 10-0-14 formulation, if grass is still growing. A soil test is the best way to know if it is needed. A fertilizer containing controlled-release nitrogen, like GreenEdge or Nitroganic, will give a longer lasting, more consistent result. Alternatively, a 0-0-16 formulation (without nitrogen) can be used to boost overall health. The vegetable garden should be fertilized every 3 to 4 weeks, preferably with a slow-release organic fertilizer.
Mulch: Maintain a 2 to 3-inch layer around established trees, shrubs, and bedding plants to help maintain soil moisture, reduce erosion and weeds, and protect tropical’s from intermittent temperature drops. Mulch also creates an attractive unified look and can highlight your plantings. Florida’s warm and often wet weather can lead to rapid breakdown of mulch, so be on the lookout for our pre-order mulch deals.
Control Weeds: Weeds in lawns can be controlled with post-emergent herbicides such as Fertilome Weedout (without fertilizer), Trimec Liquid lawn weed killer, and Fertilome Selective for spot treatment. Choose an herbicide that lists your lawn type on the label and use within the recommended temperature range. Dollar Weed Control helps battle Dollar weed, but also make sure you’re not over watering your lawn and creating conditions favorable for this weed.
Herbicides intended for lawns may be harmful in ornamental landscape beds. Weed-n-feed type products should never be used in this situation. Choose an herbicide listed safe for ornamental beds. Fast, dense growing plants and mulch can be just as effective as herbicides. Choose larger particle mulches for best weed control. Hand-pulling can of course supplement other controls.
Monitor Insects: Although others can be active, the major insect pests in North Florida this time of year are Tropical Sod Webworms and Fall Armyworms. If there has been no freeze, and no drought induced dormancy, brown turf could be indicative of insect damage. Tropical sod webworm caterpillars prefer dry and hot grass areas. Early damage is harder to notice as early larval stages feed near grass tips, creating a ragged and irregular appearance. Later stages consume considerable quantities of grass before pupating and chew on grass blades near soil surface, causing yellow and brown patches often leading to the ingress of weeds. Fall armyworm caterpillars skeletonize grass blades then later create bare spots.
Younger caterpillars of both armyworm and webworm are more easily controlled with reduced-risk products like B.t., halofenozide and spinosad. Bifenthrin also targets both these caterpillars. Rotate combination products to reduce resistant populations and spot treat when possible.
Also frequently scout the vegetable garden (indoor plants too!) for insects, as they are easier to control when first noticed. Horticultural soap sprays will control many soft-bodied insect pests and Bt (Bacillus thunbergiensis) is useful against caterpillars. Spinosad is particularly effective on caterpillars and thrips (also leafminers, spider mites, mosquitoes, ants and fruit flies) and lasts up to 4 weeks. Additionally, it is safe for people, beneficial insects and adult butterflies, and safe for bees once it has dried. A good coverage of horticultural oil can be used to smother some insects like scale and spider mites. Neem oil is a good combination product that can be used to combat insects, mites and fungus.
Many insect problems require a combination of pest management products and techniques. Rockaway has products specifically for all these problems, including products safe to use for your vegetable garden. But keep in mind that for any problem, it may occasionally be less costly and more environmentally friendly to replace infected plants with another species that would be more appropriate for the site. Don’t be reluctant to remove a plant that just isn’t working.
Monitor Disease: Fungal diseases are prevalent at this time, becoming active when the soil temperature begins to cool down, especially if late season rains continue. Susceptible lawns may see the return of Large Patch if it wasn’t controlled in spring. Large Patch appears as a circular or irregular patch of yellow or brown turf. Grass blades have rotten stems which can be slipped easily from the base of the plant.
The best action against fungal diseases in turf is proper lawn care. Avoid over watering and over-fertilizing. Fungicides such as Fertilome F-Stop Lawn Fungicide and Bonide Infuse Systemic Disease Control can be useful to control fungal diseases once they show in your lawn, but preventive applications usually need to begin before symptoms appear. For Large Patch, this would be in spring. If your lawn has experienced fungal disease, you should plan preventive treatments for next year.
Landscape beds are also prone to fungal disease, especially if over-watered or watered at the wrong time of day. Watch for powdery mildew late in the growing season. Remove all the infected plant parts and destroy, do not compost, them. Follow with a fungicide spray such as Fertilome Liquid Systemic Fungicide or Bonide Infuse. Effective organic fungicides for treating certain fungal diseases include sulfur, lime-sulfur, neem oil, ammonium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate. Care must be taken to read label precautions for both human and plant safety. Sulfur and lime-sulfur in particular, may have harmful effects on certain plants and shouldn’t be used under certain conditions.
Divide: There still may be time to divide multi-stemmed clumping perennials or bulbs, as long as they are not in flower. Amaryllis, ferns, daylilies, liriope, agave and lilies are some examples of plants that may have become overgrown or need rejuvenation. If a plant has begun to look ragged and have reduced flowering, it likely needs to be divided. Conversely, if it is taking over, division can control the spread. If it is not possible to pull apart a clump into smaller clumps each with some roots, stem, leaves and buds, it can be cut. Try to work out of direct sun, replacing the plants as quickly as possible into the soil at the same depth while mixing in organic matter. An exception to this is Amaryllis as these bulbs may benefit from several weeks of air drying before being replanted. Provide irrigation while the divisions establish.
Dig: If your Caladiums don’t return well each spring you might consider digging the bulbs up in the fall to store over winter. They may be succumbing to wet winter soil.
Take Cuttings: You may want to take stem cuttings from cold sensitive plants in your garden to be able to plant them again next year. This method works for most of these plants: take 4-6″ pieces of stem from branch tips, removing at least an inch of the lower leaves. The cut end can be dipped in a root stimulator powder and placed ½ to 1″ into moist potting soil in small pots. Keep moist but not soggy, in the shade, until needing to move them to a bright indoor location.
Harvest: Many varieties of oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes and kumquats are fruiting now.
Dig up the roots of culinary ginger when the foliage dies back. Harvest some and plant some back into the ground for next year’s crop.
Harvest the bright yellow underground rhizomes of turmeric when the plant goes dormant.
Harvest herbs frequently to encourage new growth. If you have unripe tomatoes at the end of the growing season, see our handout Using Green Tomatoes CLICK HERE!
Relocate Houseplants: Prepare to bring houseplants back inside if they have been out for the summer. Especially if overhead cover is provided, some plants typically grown in the home are fine in short term temperatures close to freezing, but others need to be above 50°, so know what you have. Remove any dead or dying foliage. Lightly spray them down with the garden hose and wipe leaves with a sponge to remove dust and insects. A dose of insecticidal soap or Spinosad may be needed before bringing plants indoors but continue to watch since one application may not be enough. Water your plants less often in the winter but be aware of drier air. Refer to our handouts Houseplant Watering Fundamentals CLICK HERE and Top Low Light Houseplants CLICK HERE!
Prepare for possible hurricanes: Continue to prepare for possible hurricanes through the end of November. Pruning to remove dead limbs and open up trees to allow for better airflow is better done in previous months. Install lightning protection on tall high value trees. Avoid planting fast growing trees that have brittle wood. Wind resistant trees for North Florida include Live Oak, Sand Live Oak, Dogwood, Dahoon Holly, Yaupon Holly, Inkberry, American Holly, Crape Myrtle, Southern Magnolia, Podocarpus and Cabbage Palm. Most palms in general, except Queen Palm and Washington Palm, are more resistant than broad-leaved and conifer trees.
If a hurricane is imminent, please refer to our document Landscape Hurricane Preparedness CLICK HERE
Prevent Cold Damage: One way to avoid some cold damage is to refrain from a complete fall clean up. Leaving spent vegetation, ornamental grasses and other perennials until spring provides insulation for the plant and others around it (not to mention more homes for wildlife and beneficial insects). It is also helpful to have some freeze cloth on hand to protect plants that are marginally hardy. These cloths need to extend to the ground to catch the heat retained there. A string of Christmas lights under the cover can make a difference too, as can a new cover of mulch over sensitive roots. Make sure your evergreens have had adequate moisture going into winter as they can be desiccated by winter conditions. An application of a dormant oil on broad leaf evergreens will not only control scale and mite insects but will also lessen moisture loss through leaves. Watering the ground a day before a cold spell will allow it to absorb more solar radiation which is released overnight. The overhead protection of overhangs and porches can be sufficient protection for marginal plants, especially with the extra heat radiating from the building. Harvest citrus if temperatures will be 28° for 4 or more hours, unless the fruit is not ripe.
Protect Bananas in Winter: Container grown bananas can survive as houseplants during the winter if they receive plenty of bright light and humidity. They don’t require much water in the winter. Keep temperatures above 50 degrees. Garden grown bananas can be overwintered in the ground; the goal is to protect the pseudostem. Once cold temperatures have caused the leaves to turn brown and collapse, cut off the top of the plant, leaving 3-4′ of pseudostem remaining. Leaving the brown leaves on the remainder of the plant will provide additional insulation. Construct a cage around the trunk using rebar and concrete reinforcing wire. Drive three rebar into the ground 2′ from the outermost pseudostem to create supports for the wire.
Form a cage by wrapping the concrete reinforcing wire around the stakes. Secure the wire to the stakes with zip ties or string. Fill the cage with shredded leaves, to provide the right insulation, aeration and drainage. Don’t use whole leaves, pine straw, hay or grass clippings.When new banana leaves begin growing in spring, remove the cage and spread the shredded leaf mixture around the base of the plant where it will serve as mulch and compost for your banana plant.
Maintain Mowers and Tools: When the gardening season takes a short break in winter, and lawn growth has slowed, use up the gas in the mower, hose off all debris and sharpen the blades. The ragged cuts from dull mower blades can lead to diseases in lawns. Hose off large clumps of dirt from garden tools. Clean rust with a wire brush and penetrating oil. Sharpen shovels, trowels, axes, and hatchets using a metal file held at the same angle as the original bevel. Push the file in long strokes across the edge of the blade. After filing, use some light machine oil and a fine grit grinding stone on the burr created on the back edge of the shovels and trowels. Pruners and toothed pruning saws should be taken to a professional. Tool blades can be wiped with steel wool and oil. Alternatively, tools can be plunged into a bucket containing a mixture of sand moistened with lubricating or vegetable oil. Polish with a coarse cloth. Lightly sand handles and rub on a coat of linseed oil. Hang tools to protect them from damage.
Decorate for the Holidays: Poinsettias, cyclamen, forced amaryllis and narcissus, and Christmas cactus are an integral part of holiday indoor and porch decorating. Bright but not direct indoor light is good for most but see our care guides for these plants.
Amaryllis, Paper Whites and Christmas Cactus can be coaxed to bloom (“forced”) during the holidays, outside of their normal season. Paper whites can be treated following the instructions for Amaryllis. Besides planting them in soil as directed in the Amaryllis handout, both can also flower in 3-5 inches of gravel as a base in a non-draining container, then covered 2/3 up the bulb with gravel and watered until the water just touches the bottom of the bulb. See individual care guides for Amaryllis CLICK HERE! and Christmas Cactus CLICK HERE! for further instruction on forcing blooms.
The chart below will help you determine when to plant or begin treatment to see blooms for the Holidays.
|Plants||Treatment||Weeks to Bloom|
|Amarylis bulb||No Chilling||5-10 Weeks|
|Paper Whites Bulb||No Chilling||3-5 Weeks|
|Hyacinth Bulb||10-14 weeks at 40 degrees||2-3 Weeks|
|Daffodil Bulb||15-17 weeks||2-3 Weeks|
|*Mild-Winter Tulip Species*||No Chilling||3-4 Weeks|
|Christmas Cactus Plant||12 hour nights, 50-65
*Most tulips require a chilling period to bloom, simulating winter cold. A few species are from warmer climates and do not need chilling. These include Lady Tulip (Tulipa clusiana), Candia Tulip (T. saxatilis) and Florentine Tulip (T. sylvestris).
Species which require chilling are considered annuals in our N. Florida landscape, since we don’t have the conditions to keep them returning.
You’ll also find garland, wreathes of different types and Christmas trees at Rockaway for holiday decorating. See the Christmas Garland Guide CLICK HERE for information on types of greenery and their uses. See the Wreath and Greenery Care Guide for tips on keeping your greenery fresh and making your own wreathes. CLICK HERE! For information about choosing and caring for your Christmas tree, see the Christmas Tree Care Guide CLICK HERE!, Choosing a Christmas Tree CLICK HERE! and Guide to Ordering the Perfect Height Christmas Tree. CLICK HERE!
Meet the Author!
Trisha Vecchio, Consultant for Rockaway, Inc. Trisha writes plant signage, newsletters and informational handouts to empower Rockaway’s customers to make informed gardening choices that benefit them and the community, support Grow Your Own gardening and promote interests in gardening and crafting with the natural world. She also tracks and facilitates development of Rockaway’s retail system.
Trisha has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Emory University, Plant Science degree from the University of Rhode Island and Master Gardener’s certification from Oregon State University. She has worked or interned in 8 major zoos in animal management and horticulture, a number of other environmental organizations and botanical gardens and 4 garden centers across the U.S.