You gotta love it - October. The plants do. Tomatoes start consistently setting their fruits, poinsettias and Christmas cactus initiate the flowering process and it's time to plant the cool season crops including the herbs. Did I mention the days are getting a bit cooler too? Fall has arrived.
Many gardeners can finally feed their starving lawns. If you live in an area with a summer turf feeding moratorium, October is the month you can start feeding again. These lawns may be yellowish green and filling with weeds which have begun to take over the less vigorous turf. You may want to think about the use of a weed and feed product to control the unwanted greenery. Be sure to obtain a product made for your lawn and the weeds that you want to control. If you have not been able to control the weeds, have them identified. You may need a special herbicide for these weeds and your lawn.
Zoysia, centipede and bahia growers should note this is normally the last feeding of the year for your turf. Too much fertilizer is not good for these lawns and may encourage disease problems with zoysia. By late October a fungicide could be applied for brown patch, also called large patch in zoysia. It should then be repeated in about 30 days following label instructions.
Most shrubs, perennials and many fruit trees need a feeding now too. Products to select from include Dynamite, Osmocote, Miracle-Gro Shake'n Feed and similar slow release fertilizers found at garden centers. Just follow the labels for proper application. Most uniformly feed your plants for months.
Make plans now to bring some of your foliage plants indoors as the weather cools. Research suggests adding plants to the home can help reduce pollutants, but you are likely to need many of them. Still, one of the great rewards of adding plants to the home is creating a relaxing atmosphere and pleasant working environment. Plants just make us feel better.
- Lawns need a fall feeding to regain their vigor and good green color.
- Select a low phosphorus lawn fertilizer made for your lawn type.
- October is the last feeding for bahia, centipede and zoysia lawns this year.
- Lawns that continue a yellow look may regreen with an iron or minor nutrient application.
- Weeds have invaded many lawns; control with appropriate herbicides or replace with new sod.
- Herbicides may not control all weeds; pull, dig or use non selective spot sprays as labeled.
- Fill bare spots in lawns left from summer pests with sod or plugs.
- Seeding time for bahiagrass if over; delay rye seedings until late November.
- Have the soil acidity tested and adjust the pH if needed.
- Chinch bugs and sod webworms can linger into fall; control as needed
- Water turf when it shows signs of moisture stress.
- Adjust irrigation systems to water lawns separately from other plantings.
- Trim grass away from sprinklers and adjust them to ensure proper operation.
- Use soil aeration in compacted and poorly drained soils to encourage better root growth.
Vegetable and fruit tree care:
- Complete plantings of warm season crops in early October.
- Use large transplants of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants to get a fall crop.
- Tomatoes begin setting and holding their fruits early to mid month.
- Add flowers to vegetable gardens to attract pollinators.
- Prevent spray damage to pollinators; apply sprays when they are not active.
- Caterpillars are feeding on cucumbers, melons and tomatoes; control with a natural spray.
- Begin plantings of cool season vegetables around mid-month.
- Gardeners cramped for space can grow vegetables in containers.
- Start seeds for transplants of broccoli, cauliflower and similar vegetables in containers.
- Trellis or stake all tall growing vegetables to help keep them pest free and easy to harvest.
- Add a mulch to the surface of the soil to conserve moisture and keep vegetables dirt free.
- Groom summer weary herb plantings and start new ones that prefer the cooler weather.
- Most vegetables need a moist soil; water when the surface begins to dry to the touch.
- Feed in ground vegetables every 3 to 4 weeks; container gardens weekly.
- Give citrus a final feeding of the year during early October.
- Add strawberry plants to a garden or build a pyramid for planting.
- Delay pruning all fruit plantings until mid to late winter.
- Dig in the soil to check sweet potato plantings; most have roots ready to harvest.
- Shrubs, ground covers and perennials are ready for a final fall feeding.
- Use a slow release fertilizer that can feed in ground and container planting for months.
- Most ornamental and shade trees to not need a special feeding
- Give palms a final feeding of the year with an 8-2-12-4mg fertilizer or similar product.
- Palm disease are prevalent; clean and sterilize pruners between palms.
- Weeds are plentiful in ornamental plantings; hand pull or spot kill to prevent seeding.
- Many plants have grown out of bounds; complete needed pruning early in the month.
- Give hedges a final trimming.
- Remove suckers and low limbs from trees.
- Whiteflies and mealy bugs are major pest; systemic insecticides offer good control.
- Poinsettia and azalea pruning time is over for this year except for out of bounds shoots.
- Shield poinsettias and holiday cactuses from nighttime light starting mid month.
- A cool moist fall and winter is predicted; water only as needed.
- Maintain a mulch under trees and shrubs; start the mulch several inches from trunks.
- Add fall plants to hanging baskets and container gardens.
- Edge sidewalks and plant beds.
- Replace soil in problem flower beds and planters.
- Give water lilies and bog plants a monthly feeding.
House & foliage plant care:
- Plants reduce pollutants and create a pleasing atmosphere when added to homes and offices.
- Foliage plants are often a good buy at garden centers during fall; replace the declining plants.
- Many foliage plants have grown too large for their containers; repot as needed.
- Groom outdoor foliage plants and begin moving them to a warm location.
- Most foliage plants need a bright light location but out of the direct sun.
- Feed plants in bright light monthly.
- Control insects on plants before moving them indoors.
- Begin forcing amaryllis and paper white narcissus for indoor displays.
- Reduce watering of holiday cactuses to when the surface soil is dry and stop feedings.
- Make sure poinsettias, holiday cactuses and kalanchoes receive no nighttime light.
October 2020 Plantings
Flowers: African daisy, alyssum, angelonia, ageratum, begonia, black-eyed Susan, blue daze, calendula, candytuft, celosia, chrysanthemums, cleome, coleus, cornflower, cosmos, dianthus, dusty miller, gaillardia, gazania, geraniums, gerbera, heliotrope, hollyhock, impatiens, larkspur, lobelia, nicotiana, pentas, petunia, salvia, snapdragon, sunflower, sweet pea, verbena and zinnia.
Vegetables: Beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, collards, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onion, peas, potato, radicchio, radish, rhubarb, roquette, rutabaga, spinach, strawberry, Swiss chard and turnip.
Herbs: Anise, basil, bay laurel, borage, cardamom, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, lavender, lemon balm, lovage, mint, nasturtium, oregano, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, tarragon, thyme and water cress.
Bulbs: African lily, agapanthus, amaryllis, anemone, bulbine, calla, crinum, day lily, gingers, gladiolus, pineapple lily, rain lily, society garlic, spider lilies, walking iris, watsonia. Refrigerate crocus, daffodils, hyacinth, narcissus and tulips for forcing.