Tulips through December - 6" deep but dig the hole 8" deep and fill the bottom 2" with a mix of sand and peat moss, a pinch of lime - place the bulb on top, add a handful of sharp gravel over the bulb to deter voles and backfill with soil
Deciduous trees and shrubs after they are dormant
Pruning and Cleaning Up
Cut perennial stems back to 3" to 4" from ground level after several hard frosts
Ok to prune now through February - abelia, privet, smoke tree, sumac and all evergreen trees and shrubs
Boxwood can be pruned by thinning to help light and air circulation but thin when temperatures are above freezing and clean your tools after each boxwood to prevent spreading any disease
Fertilize and Mulch
Pine needles, rotted sawdust, straw, and leaves make great mulch - about 2" to 4" after the ground freezes
Mulching flowerbeds improves soil texture
Turn off garden faucets and drain hoses
Roots of woody ornamentals in containers (english box, camellia, pampas grass, cotoneaster, english and japanese holly, star magnolia, and nandina) can be killed if the soil gets too cold (25 degrees and under) so moving containers to a greenhouse or sinking them in the ground will keep them warmer
Close water gardens but leave hardy water lilies and fish in ponds over 16" deep. Create air holes in the ice of small ponds that have frozen over completely.
Tips of the month:
If you still have green tomatoes on the vine that haven't been frost damaged, harvest them and place them in a closed container, a brown paper bag works well, add a piece of ripe apple and as your tomatoes ripen, remove the ripened ones and close the container again to allow the unripened tomatoes to continue ripening
Pot amaryllis bulbs 8 weeks before you want them to bloom in a pot that leaves no more than 1" of space on each side of the bulb. Leave at least 1/3 of the bulb above the soil line
You still need to be vigilant about ticks because they are still active.
A new unfriendly critter, the "kissing bug, " about the size of a penny and with a needle like mouthpart under a cone shaped head, has been located in Virginia and carries Chagas disease so keep an eye out for the bug but don't touch it or let it in the house. Here's a link to more information on Kissing Bug.
Tips for Every month:
Keep your tools clean - Clean your tools after every use to prevent spreading disease from plant to plant
Wear gloves - Use gloves for all of your gardening chores; gloves will keep your skin out of direct contact with toxic plant substances and critters too
Protect your skin from poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac
Beware of Giant Hogweed - Giant Hogweed is in our area; it is a member of the wild carrot family native to Asia and can reach heights of 6-10 feet. It looks like a giant Queen Anne's Lace as it grows. It is highly toxic! Do NOT touch, pull, brush against, or weed-whack this plant. Do NOT handle this plant. Do NOT try to remove this plant yourself. Direct contact with this plant sensitizes the skin to the sun and leaves 3rd degree burns. If you see or suspect Giant Hogweed take digital photos of the leaf, stem, and flower and contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office. (photo Robert Videki, Doronicum Kft.)