November Gardening Tips for the Desert Southwest

This is the month to start putting the garden to bed, but don't despair. There's plenty of color to savor and still time to plant winter annuals.
Cold Nights and Frost

At higher elevations, frost has already put down many plantings for their long winter's nap. Lower elevations, like Phoenix, will see frost by mid-month.

Frost Protection

In all locations, as freezing temperatures come and go, you can prolong the growing season by protecting plants.

Prepare for frost

  • Start by monitoring weather forecasts online so you can prepare for cold snaps. This is especially vital in areas where frost comes and goes throughout the winter.
  • If frost is predicted, cover plants you want to preserve with a sheet, burlap, or other nonplastic material. Remove covers after the sun is up and temperatures have risen sufficiently.
  • You can purchase frost blankets that guarantee protection to a specific temperature. Frost blankets are typically permeable to water, air, and a portion of sunlight, so they can be left in place for a few days, if necessary.


Tender Plants

Move outdoor potted tropicals to a protected spot on a porch or covered patio if frost threatens. For tropical succulents, like desert rose (Adenium obesum), keep plants under cover through winter to protect from seasonal rains.

Test Garden Tip: Frost helps some vegetables -- like Brussels sprouts, kale, and carrots -- develop better flavor. Many leafy greens, including spinach and lettuce, withstand hard frost (below 28 degrees F).

Continued on page 2:  Still Time to Plant