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November is time to apply winter mulch

The Becker County Master Gardners gives this advice now that it's November and now is the time to

• Potted chrysanthemums in rich, autumn hues are traditional for Thanksgiving. Choose plants with some buds just opening, rather than in full bloom. They'll last three or four weeks when kept in a bright locations.

Discard the plants once their flowers fade. It's not worth trying to plant them outdoors. Even though they might survive our winters, most florists mums won't bloom before hard frost, so they aren't useful in Minnesota gardens.

• Apply winter mulch over bulbs and the flowering perennials buy mid-month if the soil hasn't frozen yet. (Ideally you'd wait until it freezes.) You can even spread straw, leaves, or partially finished compost on top of snow.

Winter mulch's most important function is to insulate plant roots from fluctuating soil temperatures and keep them safely dormant during early spring warm-ups.

• Move houseplants to brighter locations within your home, to compensate for reduced-light levels as days grow shorter and cloudier weather increases. South-or west facing windows are not too bright -- even for "low light" plants, this time of year.

Pull the shades or draw the drapes at night, thought to protect houseplants from cold air near windowpanes. Continue to rotate the plants 1/4 turn every couple weeks so they don't bend toward the light.