November Do’s and Don’ts

November 19, 2015 – Kenosha News


Question: I found a couple of bags of tulips and crocus on sale so I bought them. Is it too late to plant bulbs? C.L.

Answer: Spring flower bulbs may be planted as long as the ground is not frozen and can be dug. It is best to plant before late fall so the roots have more time to develop, but your tulips and crocus will still come up and bloom beautifully even if you plant them in the snow.


Question: Is it too late to fertilize my lawn? I didn’t get it done earlier. R.C.

Answer: Yes, it is too late to fertilize. Research by University of Wisconsin soil and turfgrass specialists discovered fertilizer applied after the middle of October was not effective. Fertilizing now would be a waste of your time and money so wait until mid to late May.


Question: Last winter some kind of animal chewed the bark on some of my bushes right above the ground. The plants recovered but I want to know if I can do something to keep the animals from damaging my bushes again this winter? R.G.

Answer: Voles, which are also called meadow mice, will tunnel through mulch to eat the bark of trees and shrubs during winter. Pull the mulch several inches away from the base of trees and shrubs in every fall. This prevents hungry mice from tunneling through the mulch to safely partake of a bark dinner. Trunks of young fruit and ornamental trees, even those without mulch, are especially attractive to hungry rodents and should be protected by plastic tree spirals or hardware cloth.


Question: How far can I cut down a climbing rose for the winter? L.L.

Answer: Traditional climbing roses bloom on the previous year’s growth so the canes should never be cut back for winter because it will decrease the number of flowers next year. In many cases climbing rose canes must be protected to assure flowers next summer. Take the canes off the trellis and carefully bend them to the ground. Hold the canes down with stakes and cover with several inches of soil. After the soil freezes, cover with straw or leaves. Alternatively, canes can be left on the trellis and encircled with a cylinder of hardware cloth or similar material. Fill the cylinder with clean straw or crinkled leaves to insulate the canes.


Kenosha County UW-Extension LogoBarb Larson is horticulture educator for the Kenosha County University of Wisconsin Extension. She holds a master’s of science in horticulture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. If you have a plant or gardening question, email her at or call 262-857-1942.