Volume 09 | November 2017
Frigid Temps and Falling Leaves
Recent frigid mornings remind us that the first average frost date is approaching. For most of Tidewater, that date is November 15. Not to say that it will frost that day, but the chances of a killing frost begin to rise after that and for gardeners, it marks a turning point in the year. Unless, of course, you live in Tidewater, where one frost does not a winter make. Recent winters have shown that temperatures can change quickly and without much warning. Be prepared to protect plants from frost or freezing temperatures by having the supplies you need on hand beginning this month. A few points to remember:

  • Most of Tidewater is in Zone 8a (more about zones here) which means that a plant hardy to our zone can survive average low temperatures of 10 – 15F.
  • When frost arrives, hardy perennials turn yellow to black and die back to the ground, but the root systems should be fine.
  • Tender plants – those that are hardy in Zones 9-11 – should be protected from frost. Depending on which zone these plants are in, they can survive low temperatures from 20F (Zone 9) to 45F (Zone 11).
  • Plants in containers need special attention, even if they are hardy in our zone. Because the roots are above ground they are not as protected as those that are planted in beds. Move them indoors when temperatures drop to near or below freezing – any place that stays above freezing will do.
  • If you are bringing plants into your home for winter, be sure to provide enough humidity around the plant. Set the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water (be sure the bottom of the pot is not in the water) or mist the plant with a spray bottle.
  • Be on the lookout for insect pests on overwintered plants. Mealy bug and spider mites are common on plants brought indoors. For more information on dealing with these pests, please refer to the Pest Management Guide.

There are other measures you can take to help protect your outdoor plants during winter. If you’ve planted “borderline hardy” plants in your garden, mulch them heavily to give some added protection around the roots. When temperatures drop, cover them with old sheets or burlap. Make sure the edges of the covering are touching the ground and use something heavy to keep them in place. This will help trap heat from the ground around the plant and provide a few degrees of extra warmth.

Fallen leaves or pine needles can be used as mulch and are readily available this time of year. If you have more leaves than you need for mulching, consider composting them to use as a soil amendment next year. More information on turning leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen waste into compost can be found here.
November's Garden To-Do List:
  • rake leaves as they fall and add to beds as mulch or compost
  • continue providing clean water sources for birds and insects
  • plant spring blooming bulbs
  • add mulch to protect perennials from winter temperatures
  • prepare pots for winter by emptying and storing upside down
  • divide perennials that have outgrown their space and replant in another area or share with friends
  • consider drying or freezing tender herbs before frosts arrive
  • plant trees & perennials so that roots are established before the heat of next summer
  • remove yellow, diseased, or dead leaves from roses and surrounding area to help cut down on disease next year
  • if needed, prune certain shrubs like abelia, beauty berry, and gardenia - see the Pruning Calendar for a complete list

Have gardening questions? Help is available year round through the Master Gardener Help Desk by calling 757-385-8156 or email your question to vbmghelp@vbgov.com
Upcoming Events
Nov 6 - Gardening Talk - City of Virginia Beach Codes & Laws for Landscaping
P.J. Skully with the Virginia Beach Planning Department will discuss Virginia Beach policies and laws regarding landscape design, especially those on waterways. Free and Open to the Public; No Registration Required. Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library, 4100 Virginia Beach Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23452
Forcing Bulbs for Winter Blooms
If you want beautiful blooms for the holidays, start forcing bulbs like amaryllis and paper white now.

Adult & Youth Programs

Virginia Beach Master Gardeners can bring a variety of programs to your garden club, civic league, HOA, school or homeschool program.

Our Speaker's Bureau volunteers have programs lasting 30-60 minutes for groups of all sizes. For a complete list of topics, visit our webpage.

We have five youth programs appropriate for elementary-aged children. Our programs cover plants and what they need to grow; water conservation, Arbor Day, trees, and school tours to our gardens. Youth Programs have been aligned to meet Virginia's SOLs. Please visit our Youth Programs page for details.

Plan Ahead
Virginia Flower & Garden Expo - January 26-28, 2018

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Jill Wright at 757-385-4769 during the business hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to discuss accommodations 5 days prior to the event. TDD number (800) 828-1120.  
Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.