Choose the right spot for your festive house plants
- Indoor azaleas, cyclamen and forced bulbs last longer in a cool spot, while poinsettias like warm draught free rooms.
Water evergreens in containers
- Winter winds can draw a lot of moisture out of plants so make sure there is some water available to them.
- These fruit best on newer wood, so cut out a quarter to a third of the oldest, woodiest stems and any weak or damaged ones.
Keep an eye out for hibernating creatures
- If you are tidying up keep an eye out for hibernating frogs, toads and ladybirds and be careful not to disturb them.
- Sow mustard, cress, coriander or pea shoots in pots on a warm windowsill to use in winter salads.
Apply a winter wash to fruit trees
- This coats overwintering insect eggs in plant oils. Only use where aphids,scale insects and mites caused damage last summer.
Keep your Christmas tree watered
- If you have bought a poted tree keep it outdoors for as long as possible. Water it frequently once you bring it indoors.
Tidy up around brassicas.
- Remove yellowing foliage around winter crops such as Brussel sprouts and kale and keep the area free of weeds. Taller plants may need staking to prevent wind damage.
Take hardwood cuttings
- Use this season’s growth to propagate pencil thin cuttings about 15 to 30cm long. Good candidates are Cornus, Salix, Forsythia, Buddleja, jasmine, honeysuckle and grapevines.
Prune apples and pears
- To maintain a good shape and to maximise cropping next year prune freestanding trees now. Cut out diseased twigs and remove cankers where possible.
Improve heavy clay soils
- Unless the soil is waterlogged add well rotted
TREES, SHRUBS AND FLOWERS
- Reseed bare lawn patches. Use horticultural fleece or netting to protect the seed from the birds.
- This is the perfect tome to plant crocus, daffodil and iris to make a spring time display.
- Move self seeded biennials such as foxgloves.
- Prune jasmine.Summer flowering jasmine is pruned by cutting back to a strong new sideshoot below the flowered stems. Completely remove weak or congested stems to encourage new growth.
- Plant perennials and shrubs while the soil is still warm and there may be les need to water.
- Tidy hedges to keep them looking sharp over winter
- Divide herbaceous perennials that have finished flowering. keep and replant only the most healthy and vigorous plants.
- Control grubs in the lawn. If you have a problem with chafer grubs or leather jackets use a biological control.
- Prolong summer displays.Keep containers and hanging baskets looking good by continuing to deadhead, feed and water.
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
- Crop sweet corn. They are ripe when the tendrils at the end turn brown and if you push your finger nail into a kernel they release milky sap. If the sap is still watery wait a week or two before picking them.
- Gather autumn raspberries. Finish harvesting autumn raspberries, but leave the fruited canes in place for pruning next February.
- Pick pumpkins and winter squash. Harvest squashes later in the month, once the skins have hardened but before the frosts.
- Leave areas of long grass to act as shelter for wildlife as the weather gets colder.
- Feed hedgehogs. Help them to build up energy reserves before they go into hibernation by leaving out meat based cat or dog food or special hedgehog food.
- Net your pond. Lots of decaying leaves reduce the amount of oxygen in the water and builds up silt at the bottom. Catch and compost fallen leaves instead.
- Clear nest boxes so birds can use them for roosting in winter. Line them with dry grass to make them warmer for small birds.
TREES, SHRUBS AND FLOWERS
- Tidy up perennials. Cut back spent flowr stems and foliage.
- Take cuttings for more plants. Use this season’s non flowering growth to take cuttings from Choisya, Hebe, Cistus, Penstemon and Dianthus. Keep in moist compost in a warm, bright space but out of direct sunlight.
- Gather seed for next year. Store in labelled paper bags in a cool, dry place for sowing next spring.
- Water ericaceous plants. Camellias and rhododendrons in pots need regular watering as they are setting new flower buds for next spring.
- Extend your potted displays. Carry on watering, deadheading and feeding your summer containers to keep them looking good.
- Deal with vine weavil. It is an ideal time to apply nematodes as a biological control.
- Feed house plants. Feed once a month, for flowering plants use a potassium rich feed.
- Eliminate weeds. Hand weed and hoe off weeds in the borders before they set seed.
- Give hedges a trim but check for late nesting birds.
- Maintain lavender plants. Cut back lavender after flowering about 2.5cm into the flowering stem, but do not cut into old, brown wood.
FRUIT , VEGETABLES AND HERBS
- Rejuvenate herbs. Encourage a new flush of foliage by cutting back now.
- Remove old raspberry canes. Cut the fruited canes of summer fruiting raspberries to soil level.
- Lift, dry and store onions. As leaves yellow and go over , lift onions and dry under cover for two weeks then store in net bags.
- Remove surplus squash fruit.
- Make new strawberry beds. Plant up strawberry runners from healthy parents Avoid disease by choosing a new spot and replanting every three years.
- Sow green manure
- Hold back when cutting seedheads. Leave some for wildlife during autumn and winter.
- Clean water butts.
- Leave fallen fruit. Windfalls are a valuable source of food for birds so leave or put on the bird table.
- Support birds. Clean birdbaths regularly and keep them topped up with fresh water.
- Don’t water turf, even if it is brown. Healthy turf will recover once autumn rain arrives.
TREES SHRUBS AND FLOWERS
- Prune flowering shrubs that flower in early summer, such as Philadelphus and Weigelia, to healthy new growth lower down. Prune the oldest woody stems down to ground level.
- Water new plants regularly
- Pick sweet peas regularly and remove any seed pods. Give a weekly high potassium feed such as tomato food.
- Divide bearded iris to encourage better flowering next year.
- Keep mower blades high to make the grass more resilient to drought.
- Increase your lavender, rosemary and sage by taking cuttings from non flowering stems.
- Feed hanging baskets with high potassium fertiliser weekly.
- Shape evergreen topiary.
- Keep birdbaths topped up and remember to clean them often.
- If levels drop top up your pond with collected rainwater.
- Check for holes in fruit cage netting and make sure that it is taut to prevent birds from getting trapped in it.
- Baby hedgehogs will be appearing now so put out some meat based cat food for them.
FRUIT , VEGETABLES AND HERBS
- Start growing for winter and spring. Sow spring cabbage, turnips, oriental vegetables, chicory, fennel and salad for winter cropping.
- Keep sowing salad and spinach.
- Tidy citrus plants. Pinch out the tips of vigorous , leafy growth.
- Water tomatoes to prevent them from splitting.
- Sow late beans in a pot or directly into well prepared soil.
- Encourage herbs. Pick leafy herbs regularly so plants continue to produce planty of fresh foliage.