October Gardening Tips
What to Plant
- Plant permanent landscape trees and shrubs, perennials, ground covers, wild flowers, cool season lawns, cools season veggies, flowers and herbs.
- Choose plants for fall and winter color in your garden. Plant cool-season flowers for winter and spring bloom. These include calendula, cineraria, dianthus, delphiniums, Iceland poppies, nemesia, pansies, snapdragon, stock, sweet peas and wildflowers.
- Plant lilies as soon as you get them home.
- In hot desert regions, warm-season plants can also be sown or transplanted, with the exception of corn and melons, which should be planted in late winter.
- Bulbs to plant now – Tazetta hybrids should be planted now. These polyanthus or bunch-flower daffodils include paper whites, golden Dawn, Soleil d’Or and Matador. Also plant drought-resistant bulbs and corms from South Africa such as freesia, sparaxis, ixia, tritonia, watsonia and nerine.
- Bulbs to plant later – Daffodils, anemones, ranunculus, Dutch iris, muscari (grape hycinthia), tulips, spring-blooming crocus and hycynthia should be brought home and stored in a cool dark place. Most of these should be planted in November except for the tulip, crocus and hyacinths which need to be refrigerated for 6 to 8 weeks before planting. For inland areas; start chilling in October for December planting. For coastal areas; start chilling in November for January planting.
- Plant cool-season vegetables & herbs such as cilantro, dill, fennel, green onions, carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach, radishes, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, kale, kohlrabi, mustard and other greens.
- Plant garlic. Plant cloves base-down (pointy side up) 1-3 inches deep and 3-5 inches apart.
- Now is the time to plant wildflower seeds! Cooler weather and possibility of rain makes the fall the optimal planting time. Stover® Seed as a variety of quality wildflower seed mixes such as, California Poppies, Lupines, and California Blue Bells that will bloom beautifully! Scratch the surface of the soil with a heavy rake, scatter the seeds, top with a lightweight planting mix or Kellogg® Topper and keep moist until germination.
- You can get an early start on preparing or planning your native plant garden for winter & spring. In some areas fall is suitable for planting natives, but winter tends to be the best time to plant. For more information on natives visit Las Pilitas Nursery – When to Plant
- Now is a good time to plant or repair lawns with cool season grasses! Whether you are starting a new lawn or repairing thin areas of your existing turf, we have many options available in different sizes to fit your growing area. Grangetto’s Tall or Dwarf Fescue Seed, Marathon® I or Marathon® II Lawn Seed or Am Sod® Tall or Dwarf Fescue Sod are great choices.
Feeding and Maintenance
- Over-seed your warm-season lawn, for year-round green grass. Use cool-season grasses such as Annual Rye Grass Seed for quick germination and top with Kellogg® Topper. 50 pounds of Annual Rye Grass seed covers 5,000 square feet. Keep the ground damp until rye seeds sprout. If you are not going to over-seed your warm season lawn, continue to feed and water Bermuda lawns to delay their dormancy.
- October is a good month to aerate your lawn. This will relieve compacted soils allowing air and water to reach the roots. You can rent a machine or do the job by hand with a tool made for this purpose. If you buy a hand tool, make sure it is the type that lifts out the plug.
- Feed cool-season lawns with a cool season fertilizer such as Best® Nitra-King 19-4-4 or Yara® Turf Royale 21-7-14.
Plants, Trees and Shrubs
- TRIM BACK – Fall is the time to trim back overgrown plants. Mulch around everything if you haven’t.
- THIN OUT heavy shade trees before Santa Ana winds blow. One way to help your trees survive strong Santa Ana winds is to reduce turbulence by pruning. The idea is to thin your dense trees by opening areas so that strong winds can blow through without damaging limbs.
- PRUNE – Summer-blooming shrubs with a good set of sharp pruners, but wait to prune spring-blooming shrubs until after their bloom period. Prune cordon and espalier apples if you have not already done so and if shoots are mature enough.
- LIFT & DIVIDE agapanthus, daylily, clivia, Shasta daisy, gazanias & ornamental grasses as many of these become crowded after a few years in the ground & blooms decline. With a serrated bread knife, cut large clumps into two – four smaller pieces. Replant immediately & follow with a deep soak
- LIFT & DIVIDE perennials such as Blanket flowers, bugleweed, creeping Jenny, spotted dead nettle, spurge, stonecrop, wormwood and arum.
- Angle your spade or shovel at a 45 degree angle at the drip line and cut down and under the clump from various points around the outer edge until you are able to lift the plant out of the hold.
- FRUIT TREES & VINES – Continue thorough irrigation to maintain adequate soil moisture until winter rains begin. Prune out dead and severely damaged shoots of deciduous trees before foliage drops. Continue to protect fruit from birds and yellow jackets. Harvest fruit as soon as it ripens.
- DECIDUOUS FRUIT TREES – Do not fertilize deciduous fruit trees. Cut off the suckers from deciduous fruit trees.
- VEGETABLES – If you haven’t done so already, thoroughly clean up the vegetable garden; pull up the last of the summer crops and compost the remains (if you have had fungus or disease problems, skip the composting and get rid of them instead). Now you are ready to prepare you soil for cool season veggies! Cover planted seeds with floating row covers to protect young plants from insects. Prepare and plant beds of cool-season veggies. Use Kellogg® Planting Mix or Gardner & Bloome® Soil Building Compost to rejuvenate your soil. Cut off runners from strawberries, gather them in bunches, and pre-chill them for November planting.
- HERBS – Prepare and plant cool season herbs. Plant cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley and others.
- ROSES – We still need to watch for days of dry, hot heat and be sure to water adequately. Remove dust and grime weekly with a strong spray of water over the entire rose bush. This is great for removing spider mites. You can also use Green Light® Rose Defense or Neem Concentrate to help combat these pests and many other products are available. You should have given your last feed for this years growing season as the roses will try to go dormant after October’s bloom period. If you didn’t, fertilize roses early this month with Dr. Earth® Organic Rose & Flower food or try a multi-action fertilizer to combat pests as well, such as Bayer® Advanced Rose & Flower Care.
- BULBS – Continue to select fall bulbs for planting. Some varieties can be planted now and some don’t get planted until November, December or January depending on the type and your climate. When gladiolus have died, cut them off and dig up the corms. A new corm should have grown on the top of each old corm and some times you’ll find several cormels (tiny corms). Let the corms dry for a couple of days, then separate the new plump corm from the old corm and discard the old corm. Store these corms in a cool dry place till they’re ready to be planted next February. The cormels are difficult to sprout, but if you want to try, pre-chill in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks, then plant 1 inch apart in late winter; they will not likely bloom until their second year.
- ANNUALS & PERENNIALS – Finish cleaning up your heat loving annuals and prepare & plant cool season annuals. Lift and Divide perennials such as, Blanket flowers, bugleweed, creeping Jenny, spotted dead nettle, spurge, stonecrop, wormwood and arum.
- PLUMERIAS – The weather is still warm enough for your plumerias to thrive this month. If rains should be in the forecast, be sure to move your potted plumeria out of its path. Wind and too much water can damage your potted plants. As the weather cools, you will prepare your plumeria for winter. Feed your plumerias with a low nitrogen plant food in mid-October, using one tablespoon per gallon pot. Give one pound per inch of trunk diameter if your plants are in the ground. You won’t need to feed your plumeria again until March or April, depending on when the weather starts to warm up. When no moisture is present on the top two inches of a container, water until it runs out the bottom. Don’t use an under dish. Give plumerias full sun.
- BEGONIAS – Feed tuberous begonias for the last time this month, unless you feed all year with a balanced fertilizer. Pinch back and clean up. Water sparingly. Do not allow plants to dry out or keep them too wet.
- IRIS – Clean up iris beds if you haven’t already. Cut off damaged leaves, remove debris and mulch beds. Iris should be divided about every three to five years.
- FERNS – Keep removing old fronds from ferns. Fertilize with half-strength, high-nitrogen liquid or slow-release pellets.
- BROMELIAD – Look out for weather changes and water bromeliad frequently during Santa Ana conditions. Transplant seedlings that have developed three small leaves into small containers. Provide good drainage.
- CACTI & SUCCULENTS – Watch warm season plants and fertilize less as they go dormant. Feed all container-grown succulents with a well-diluted complete liquid fertilizer. Winter growers will need more fertilizer and water as they start to grow. Look for signs of growth as the seasons change. Transplant growing seedlings and rooted cuttings now so they can become established before winter. Prevent pests from becoming a major problem. Inspect plants for mealy bugs, mites, aphids and snails. Treat as needed.
- CAMELLIAS – Camellias are in their dormant season (October – March). Move, re-pot or bare-root and re-pot now. When planting in the ground or a pot, plant one inch higher than soil level. Camellias don’t like their crowns covered. Be sure to check the tag on your camellia to check if the prefer sun or shade.
- To encourage bud growth, continue to fertilizer with a 3-12-12 fertilizer each month through January for extra large buds. Keep well watered this month, but not too soggy. Letting them go dry will cause the buds to drop off, depriving you of their beautiful blooms. Continue disbudding all but the largest bud where bud clusters exist. Be careful not to remove the growth bud. Growth buds are thin and pointed; flower buds are round and fat. Pick up blooms that fall to the ground to prevent petal blight. Watch for aphids and hose them off with a spray of water. Watch for aphids, mites, loppers and other insects and treat accordingly.
- SWEET PEAS – If you planted sweet peas last month, thin them out and pinch them back to force branching.
- DAHLIAS – Are coming to the end of their blooming season. Dahlias don’t like frost. Finish cleaning up your dahlias. As we get into the cooler months, you will allow the plants to go dormant.
- DAYLILIES – After evergreen daylilies have finished blooming, renew plants by cutting back the leaves to 4 inches. Divide over-crowded daylilies this month.
- FUCHSIAS – Continue to feed with a high phosphorus fertilizer.
- HYDRANGEA – Continue to treat your hydrangeas. Not all hydrangeas can be made blue. White varieties always stay white and some pinks turn purple instead of blue. The color can be modified by adjusting the pH of the soil. A pH of 4.5 – 5.0 yields blue flowers, a pH 5.5 – 6.5 yields mauve, and a pH of 7.0 – 7.5 yields pink. Use a soil test kit to test the soil pH. Sulphur or aluminum sulfate can be used to lower soil pH. Use Grow More® Blueing Formula according to label direction.
- CLEAN UP – Continue cleaning dead leaves and debris.
- TROPICALS – Continue your fertilizer schedule until the cooler month of winter. Fertilize poinsettias with a complete fertilizer high in bloom ingredients. Birds of Paradise; cut off dead leaves. After flowers fade, pull out bloom stems. Small plants can be divided with a sharp knife. Left alone, these plants will eventually make such large clumps that the only way to easily divide them is to use a chain saw and replant salvageable sections.
- PELARGONIUMS – Flowers are still at their peak this month and will be through October. Continue with your fertilizer schedule. Generally fed every 2-3 week during the growing season. Do not let plants dry out. Water in early morning or early evening for best water retention. Cut back zonal and ivy geraniums, finish pruning Martha Washingtons, to encourage regrowth during the winter. Cut them back by half. Make straight cuts 1/4 to 1/2 inch above joints, leaving several healthy leaves on all branches.
- ORCHIDS – Feed with a lower nitrogen, higher phosphorous & potassium fertilizer to encourage development of bloom spikes. Water plants before noon and protect outdoor orchids from evening moisture.
- TREES & SHRUBS – Use Bayer® Dual-Action Tree & Shrub on permanent landscape plants, trees and shrubs to provide a slow release feeding and protect against insects.
- NATIVE PLANTS – Cut back native plants to control their size and also in areas that pose a fire threat. Plan and prepare your native garden for fall/winter planting. More information can be found at Las Pilitas Nursery.
- PREPARE FOR RAIN AND WIND – Get ready for winter rains. Grangetto’s carries a full line of erosion materials such as, straw wattles, straw mats, silt fence, and jute netting. Grangetto’s also carries rain gear, such as rain boots & suits, tarps and Plastic Sheeting.
- REPAIR DRAIN SYSTEMS – Repair drain systems if needed. Grangetto’s carries a variety of drainage supplies, such as drain pipe, grates and boxes.
- As the weather cools and days are shorter, reset your irrigation timer to water less frequently. However, don’t change the number of minutes the system waters each time. Remember, we live in an area where our microclimate changes from very cold to warm very rapidly, even in winter…. Just keep that in mind. Santa Ana winds are very common during the fall, usually beginning this month.
- Continue periodic and thorough irrigation of fruit trees to maintain adequate soil moisture until winter rains begin.
- Give roses up to 1 inch of water twice a week unless it rains
- Prepare and plant California Natives. The next few months are the best for establishing native plants. California Lilac, California Holly, Monkeyflower, California Tree Mallow, Coffeeberry and others. Several low-growing varieties of Manzanita make great native groundcovers. For more information on natives visit Las Pilitas Nursery – When to Plant
- Be sure to follow your local watering restrictions and guidelines
Pests to Watch out For
- Gophers – Use Wilco® Gopher Getter. Use the Lewis Lifetime® Gopher Probe to accurately put the bait where the gopher will eat it.
- Lawn pests – Use Bayer® Multi-Insect Killer or Spectracide Triazicide
- Squirrels – Use Wilco® Squirrel Bait & Bait Station or for live trapping use the Squirrelinator.
- Rats & Mice – Use Just One Bite® Rodent Bait.
- Caterpillars – Use Safer® Caterpillar Killer, Monterey® Garden Insect Spray or Green Light® Lawn & Garden Spray with Spinosad.
- Rose Pests – Use Bayer® All-in-One Rose & Flower Care or Bayer® 3-in-1 Insect Disease and Mite Control.
- Fruit Tree Pests – Use Monterey® Garden Insect Spray to combat caterpillars and other listed pests on fruit trees, vegetables and ornamentals. It is OMRI listed for Organic Use too.
- Ants – Use Grant’s® Ant Stakes or Terro® Liquid Ant Baits. For larger areas such as around many Fruit Trees, use the AntPro® Liquid Bait & Bait Station
- Weeds – Hand pull weeds in garden beds. Use Bonide® Crabgrass Preventer or Bayer Season Long Weed Control in lawns. Use Green Light® Amaze in ornamentals & flower beds. For non-selective areas, use Roundup® or QuickPro® products. Be sure to use a good sprayer such as Hudson® Sprayers.
Note: All information provided is based on typical season, weather and environmental statistics. These tips are provided for information purposes only and to be used as a general guide. Products/Brands mentioned may be discontinued at anytime and not guaranteed in-stock. Grangetto’s invites you to contact us or visit one of our locations for more specific care instructions.