Robin’s Nest Monthly Gardening Tips

Robin’s Nest Floral & Garden Center – 9399 Ocean Gateway, Easton, MD 21601 (410) 822-8700

November Gardening Tips


  1. Cut a few stems of hollywith berries for making Christmas garlands.It’s early, but now’s the time to do it, before the birds eat all the berries. Stand them in a bucket of water in a sheltered spot where birds can’t take them.
  2. For all evergreens, camellias, rhododendron, azaleas, viburnum, and even roses, consider using Wilt-Pruf. This product will seal in the moisture and help protect the plant from winter’s bitter drying winds and protect the crown of newly planted shrubs when freezing and thawing cycles occur. One application will be enough for the winter season.


  1. If you have sandy loam soils in your vegetable garden consider adding fresh cow or horse manure. This will allow enough time for the manure to decompose and be ready for spring to provide the much-needed organic matter for your garden.
  2. Before the first anticipated hard freeze be sure to water all your trees and shrubs, including bulbs and perennial beds. You will need to provide at least an inch of rain per week, remember: if the sky doesn’t provide the rain you need to water! Allowing the soil to completely dry out will provide no moisture protection for the roots of your trees and shrubs when the ground freezes. Remember just because the air temperatures are cooler, the ground temperatures will sometimes remain warmer longer. Watering is a must!


  1. Aerate your lawn now –there’s still time to do it before winter sets in. You can either use a lawn aerator or simply insert a garden fork at regular intervals and lean it back slightly to let air in.
  2. Once your perennial and annual beds are all cleaned up, keep checking on them to make sure any dandelions and any other weeds have taken root. They are easy to spot now and are easy to pull up and dispose of before they can grow.


  1. Fertilize your bramble fruits now, including raspberries and blackberries. Use a fertilizer high in organics which will feed now and jump-start the spring growing season. We recommend Plant-tone by Espoma.
  2. It is not too late to transplant any tree or shrub in your landscape. Sometimes things are planted too close to the house or they just simply outgrow the allotted area. Since the plants have gone dormant, it is more likely they will come through the transplanting well. Be sure to use Wilt-pruf for all evergreens to seal in the moisture and apply Espoma’s Bio-tone when planting to prevent the plant from going into transplant shock and provide much needed microbes for good root development.

Forcing Paper-whites, Hyacinths and Amaryllis Bulbs:

            When forcing paper-white bulbs in soil, you need seven to nine weeks to allow them to come into bloom.  Choose bulbs that have not yet sprouted and plant them within four weeks after purchase.  If you have to wait before planting store the bulbs in a dry warm room about 60 degrees.  Plant the bulbs in bulb pans, setting the bulbs up to their shoulders in gritty potting mix, and then adding enough gravel to cover the necks.  Soak the soil in the pots and allowing the water to drain.  Set the pots in room temperatures of 45-60 degrees and water sparingly, about once a week until the growth begins.  If you like the look of these beautiful flowers, but not the fragrance, you can now purchase unscented varieties of paper-whites.

Hyacinths can be forced in water and hyacinth glass vases.  Remember when purchasing these bulbs to look for ones “pre-chilled.”  Simply fill the vase with water to just touch the bottom of the bulb and place the bulb on the top.  You get two shows, the flowers at the top and the roots in the water.

Amaryllis bulbs need well-drained, gritty soil and to be planted in good, heavy pots, since the blooms are large and can make the pot top-heavy.  Plant the bulb with the top third showing above the soil line.  Water the pots thoroughly and place them in a warm room.  Maintain moderate moisture, not allowing the bulb to dry-out or set in water and fertilize each time you water.  They should come into bloom in about five or six weeks at normal home conditions.  The flower stalk will rise first, then the foliage.  The flowers can last up to two weeks, and if you have a larger bulb, you may get more than one or two flower stalks.

Proper Care of Cactus

            Cacti are probably the easiest plants to grow and care for since they require very little water. Simply place them in a south-facing window.  They can handle a range of temperatures from 38 degrees to 80 degrees.  Some varieties will require cooler temperatures to set their flowers.  Plant in well-drained sandy soil, and water only when the soil is dry to the touch, allow the water to drain from the bottom and dump out.  Never allow the cactus to sit in water and fertilize only in the spring and summer months at half the recommended rate, every third or fourth watering.  They can summer outside in the full sun but remember to bring them indoors before the temperatures fall below 60 degrees.

Pond Cleaning Made Easy – Fall is a great time to clean your pond.  Larger ponds benefit from cleaning every two or three years, while smaller ponds need to be cleaned every year.  Plan to begin when the pond plants have subsided, and all the tree leaves have been cleared away.

  1. Begin by filling a large container with pond water to be used as a temporary location for the fish in your pond. Use your ponds pump and hose to drain the water from your pond. It is a good idea to use that water on your garden plants, as it is remarkably high in nutrients.
  2. When the pond is almost drained, net out the fish, snails, and frogs and place them in the temporary container. Remember to cover the container to keep the fish from jumping out.
  3. Remove the pond plants from the pond and cover with newspaper to keep them moist.
  4. Use a plastic scoop to remove all the organic debris from the bottom of the pond. Use a hose and soft bristle brush or sponges to clean the sides and waterfalls of the pond.
  5. Place in the deepest part of the pond all your winter-hardy pond plants.
  6. Refill the pond with new fresh water. If you live in town, be sure to use a de-chlorinater to eliminate the chlorine from the water.
  7. Allow the new pond water to stand over night before introducing the fish. This will allow the water to be the same temperature as the storage container.

Creating a Cold Frame:

            Cold frames can give plants a head start on the seasons and sometimes even extend the season, or are great for starting plants from seeds.  A cold frame is nothing more than a bottomless box sunk into the earth and roofed over with glass or plastic.

The ideal position for a cold frame is facing toward the south on a slope.  It is good to have the glass or plastic door at a 45-degree angle to allow for the rains and snows to slide off.  The heat from the day will keep the box warm at night.  You do need to open the door when air temps in the cold frame reach 90 degrees, since you could be harming the plants.

When constructing the cold frame, you can use concrete blocks, bricks, or rot-resistant lumber.  Cover the frame with a set of old storm doors or other old windows or make a frame and cover it in plastic.  Place an outdoor thermometer inside the cold frame to view the inside temperatures without opening the box.

Inside the cold frame use flats filled with good soil, rich in organic matter.

Listen for Ken’s tips on the air Tuesdays (7:20am) & Thursdays (7:40am) on 96.7 WCEI, and Thursdays (7:20am) on 94.3 WINX-FM.  Ken can be reached at Robin’s Nest at 410-822-8700.