What to Take Off Your Gardening To-Do List

by | Oct 22, 2019

With several outdoor tasks essentially done for the year, many gardeners find they have extra time that they’d like to put to use in the garden. At this time of year, however, if you want to stay on top of things, there are some items you should take OFF the to-do list!

With outdoor watering, feeding and weeding tasks are essentially done for the year, many folks now have more time to putter in their yards and focus on houseplants. The issue, though, is that they tend to start giving plants more attention than they really need. Gardeners like to stay on top of things, true, but at this time of year, there are actually a few things not to do, so you can go ahead and take them off your ‘To-Do’ list!  

Transplanting Houseplants

In a nutshell, don’t do it. At this time of year, many indoor gardeners look at their houseplants, snug in their pots, and feel that they need to be transplanted into roomier digs. They don’t. Indoor plants are entering their semi-dormant time right now and are generally happiest in a bright, indirectly-lit north or east-facing location, rootbound in their current pots, and only watered thoroughly when the pot is light to lift. They also appreciate regular misting to keep humidity levels up. Wait until late March/early April—when the days lengthen and plants start to grow again—to transplant, and only go up 1” in pot diameter.

Moving ‘Hardy Annuals’ Inside

‘Hardy annuals’ are seasonal plants that would die if left out all winter, but are tough enough to handle temperatures close to 0°C. This category includes lantanas, fuchsias and scented geraniums. With the weather as cool and wet as it has been here in the Fraser Valley, several folks have started to move them indoors already, but they are actually okay to be left out a little longer. What you can do now is make room for these plants in a cool, brightly lit spot in your home. Wait to bring them inside when night temperatures approach 3°C or 4°C.

Wrapping Bananas, Palms and Containers

We recently shared details on how to wrap tender plants, like green bananas and windmill palms, in winter. But this was to help folks learn what to do in advance of really poor weather, not the weather we have now. These plants only need to be wrapped when the temperatures take a dip to well below freezing, or when we’re forecasting a blast of northerly/easterly winds. 

Should temperatures stay warmer than -3°C this winter, they do not need to be wrapped. Patio gardens, including plants that are zone 6, should be wrapped at this temperature too, as plants in containers ‘lose a zone’. Create a tripod of poles and wrap the whole pot, plants and all, with N’Sulate. Once the cold spell is over, the plants can be unwrapped—just be prepared to re-wrap them if we’re due for another cold spell.

Dividing Perennials 

The ground is so soggy now (with more rain still to come!). We recommend waiting until late winter to divide perennials.

Pruning Rhododendrons & Mophead Hydrangeas

Looking forward to an incredible colour display from your rhododendrons and azaleas next spring? Then set those pruners down! Rhodos, azaleas and mophead hydrangeas have already set their buds for next year, so pruning them now would remove all the flowers. Broadleaf evergreens can essentially be pruned at any time of year, but for winter and spring, blooming types, like skimmias, sarcococca, rhodos, azaleas and kalmia, should just be left alone.

Pruning Japanese Maples

They may be deciduous trees, but Japanese maples, when pruned during the wet winter season, can be more susceptible to disease. May through July are the ideal months to prune, but if you really do need to trim yours back, wait to do so until new growth emerges in spring.

Pruning Deciduous Trees

Deciduous trees are dormant when the leaves are fully off the trees. Pruning season for most deciduous trees, therefore, is normally from mid-late November until mid-late February, depending on winter weather and temperatures.

Tackling Weeds in Lawns 

Sorry folks, that ship has sailed. Temperatures are now too cold and wet for weed treatments. But you can certainly still head out to the lawn with a weed removing tool and get them from the tap-root!

Digging Up Dahlias

Normally we would say to hold off on this a little longer, but because of the rain we’ve had in the Fraser Valley, this item can actually stay on the To-Do list for now! Tubers left out will start to rot if they get too wet, so they can be gently dug up, cleaned up, dried and stored now.

So, with all this time saved but pent-up gardening energy still ready to burn, what can you do? Plant bulbs, freshen up your container gardens for fall and winter, clean out and hang your bird feeders, rake up the leaves as they fall, start a compost, add to your indoor plant collection—there really are many fun activities to do. Check out our October ‘To Do’ List for more great ideas too!