Plant Answers  >  Gardening Calendar: October

Gardening Calendar


Plant: October's cooler weather means time to plant cool-season vegetable crops: beets, Chinese cabbage, carrots, collards, lettuce, mustard, parsley, garden peas, spinach, radishes and turnips. This is the ideal time to plant cool-weather-loving annual flowers, including petunias, and dianthus, ornamental cabbage and kale, phlox, and Shasta daisies. Although Alyssum, asters, snap dragons, pansies, violas, calendulas and stock begin to be available in October, it is best to wait until air and soil temperatures have cooled significantly before planting them. This usually occurs in late October or early November. Wildflowers germinate and perform better if they are seeded into a lightly cultivated or raked soil. If planting in an established turf, chose bermuda turf since it is dormant during the growing season and bermuda is usually growing in a full sun location which wildflowers need to do their best. Floratam St. Augustinegrass, zoysia, buffalograss or bermudagrass sod can still be planted.

Prune: Fall-blooming annuals and perennials can be kept in flower longer and will look better if their maturing flowers are removed. Rejuvenate leggy begonias with a light pruning followed by an application of a water-soluble fertilizer. Avoid drastic pruning of woody plants this late in the growing season. However, dead or diseased wood in trees and shrubs can be readily pruned on an "as needed" basis. Continue to keep vigorous-growing shrubs, such as pyracantha and ligustrum, pruned to maintain desired size and-or shape. Wait until December or January to do any major fruit tree pruning.

Fertilize: October is time for the most important lawn fertilization of the year -- application of a Winterizer fertilizer to condition the grass for winter survival. Wait until the lawn grass slows growth and mowing every two weeks is adequate before applying. The fertilizers to use are the ones which have "Winterizer" on the bags and are complete (contains all three elements -- nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) analysis with 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratios. Continue to fertilize hibiscus, bougainvillea, allamanda, mandevilla, and other tropical plants that have been spending the summer on your patio, porch or deck. The same goes for hanging baskets and other containerized plants. Use a water-soluble type of product. A light application of garden-type fertilizer will boost annual and perennial flowering plants.

On the Lookout: Watch for signs of brown patch fungus in St. Augustine lawns, particularly if this month is rainy and cool. Treat with a product containing PCNB (Terraclor) such as Turficide. Insects can still be a major problem this month, particularly if the weather is hot. Watch for whiteflies, spider mites, aphids, and scale. Treat with the recommended product by your county Extension agent or nursery professional.

Odd Jobs: It's time for the last roundup, partners (or should we say last glyphosate herbicide such as Roundup, Ortho Kleanup or Finale!). Invading bermuda and dallisgrass in St. Augustine should be "spot treated" before they begin a winter dormancy. There is no selective herbicide which will kill Dallisgrass and not kill St. Augustine grass. With the proper watering and fertilization, the St. Augustine will cover the "kill cavities" within six weeks and the saga of the Dallisgrass will just be a memory. Poast or Ortho Grass-B-Gon can be used to kill grasses in ornamentals without fear of damage to the flowers and/or groundcovers. Buy bulbs for tulips, hyacinths and daffodils but don't be in a hurry to plant. Keep them in the refrigerator vegetable crisper until after Thanksgiving and then plant.

October Calendar by Dr. Tom Harris


*You can plant roses this month through the winter. Use lots of compost and don't plant them any deeper than they were in the pot. They should be blooming now. Keep them watered and sprayed weekly.
*Put your spring bulbs in the ground in October and November.

*Divide iris, phlox, daylilies, Shasta daisies, and other perennials. Give half to the neighbors.

*Sow wildflower seeds this month. The seeds must make contact with the soil to germinate. Keep them moist until they sprout.

*Plant perennials now through December. Move any misplaced perennials that have already bloomed.

*Plant winter annuals this month except for pansies.

Fruits and Nuts

*Continue watering pecan trees weekly. Harvest pecans as they fall to the ground-their quality declines quickly.

*Watch for rust on figs, plums, and peaches. Use wettable sulfur to slow defoliation. When the leaves are ready to drop, apply Kocide 101 in late October or early November to peaches and plums-preventive treatment for bacterial leaf spot next spring. Be sure to follow label instructions. Use a fungicide labeled for rust on figs or peaches.

*Refrigerate bulbs for 6 weeks in a paper bag.


*Dig and store caladium bulbs for winter.

*This is a great time to plant perennials--columbine, old-fashioned roses, perennial asters, blue plumbago, rock rose, Shasta daisies, daylilies and irises.

*Reduce house plant fertilization by one-half during the late fall and winter.

Shade Trees and Shrubs

*This is the absolute best time to plant trees. Do some comparison shopping if you're planning on buying large trees. Ask about delivery, planting, and warranties.

*As they start to fall, collect leaves and put them in the compost pile.

*Use hollies and nandinas for foundation plantings. They come in every size and color.

*Consider some other types of trees this fall-Montezuma cypress, cedar elm, Chinese pistache, Lacey oak, Monterrey oak, and bur oak.

Turf Grass

*Apply pre-emergent herbicide to prevent winter weeds.

*If you must water, do it in the early morning. Wet grass overnight could induce fungal problems.


*Plant cole crops such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and Brussels sprouts.

*Control caterpillars with Bt.

*Plant garlic cloves.

*Plant fall herbs.

*Apply one cup of slow-release lawn fertilizer to every 10 feet of row in the veggie garden. One-fourth cup to each tomato plant.

*Plant your spinach toward the end of the month.

*If you have nematode problems in your garden, forego a fall garden and go with Elbon rye. Add compost, fertilizer, till and seed.


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