Fall has arrived but it may still feel like summer throughout much of Florida. Often by mid-October days are noticeably shorter and maybe a bit cooler. Fall begins the dry season so make sure all planting have adequate water as the rains decline. Mid-October is also the time poinsettia and Christmas cactus plants initiate the flowering process for holiday displays- Please no nighttime light. If you are growing a tomato plant or two, early fall is when they set a majority of their fruits as the temperatures moderate.
It's out with old and in with new flowers. Well maybe, but not too fast as many flowers can extend into fall like pentas, angelonia and bush daises you planted last spring. Some may have declined by now too, like the marigolds, celosia and verbena and these can be replanted. Right now we are still planting the warm season color. I know you would like pansies you remember planting in northern gardens at this time of the year but it is too soon here. For early fall, continue with alyssum, begonias, coleus, salvias and zinnias. Then during November consider the cool season flowers of petunias, snapdragons, dianthus and more.
Some perennial color is starting to decline like the caladiums, achimenes and a few gingers. This is normal and these plants lose their foliage and return next spring. You can use this time to transplant many perennials and bulbs. It won't hurt to dig your amaryllis and let them air dry for a few weeks. University studies suggest this may help promote spring blooms. Give all flowers a fall feeding with a slow release landscape fertilizer as many continue growing into the winter.
Mums, which is short for chrysanthemums, have been at garden centers since September. Are they worth the buy for fall? Mums do not like the heat and tend to open their buds quickly in early fall. A good thought is to buy a few but don't over plant or you are likely to be disappointed. Select flowers that can linger through fall and into the cooler months for your main plantings
- Weeds have invaded many lawns; control with appropriate herbicides or replace with new sod.
- Most lawns are looking good after the rainy season; give care now to continue growth.
- 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.
- Lawn feeding time has arrived; use a low phosphorus product made for your lawn type
- Lawns fed earlier may only need an iron or minor nutrient application to maintain their green.
- Chinch bugs and sod webworms can linger into fall; control as needed
- Water turf when it shows signs of moisture stress.
- Use soil aeration in compacted and poorly drained soils to encourage better root growth.
- Rake out brown leaf blades but delay thatch removal until spring.
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.
Vegetable and fruit tree care:
- Tomato planting time is about over; select large transplants for the garden.
- Remove all declining crops and weeds left from summer.
- Plant the warm season vegetables during early October; cool season types later in the month.
- Gardeners cramped for space can grow vegetables in containers.
- Start seeds for transplants of broccoli, cauliflower and similar vegetables in containers.
- Stay alert for caterpillars, aphids and leaf miners; control with natural insecticides.
- 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.
- Install microsprinklers in gardens to water efficiently and conserve water.
- Most vegetables need a moist soil; water when the surface soil begins to dry to the touch.
- Feed in ground vegetables every 3 to 4 weeks; container gardens weekly.
- Fruit splitting on citrus trees is normal and may continue into the fall.
- Give citrus a final feeding of the year during early October.
- Delay pruning all fruit plantings until mid to late winter.
- Scale insects have been heavy this year. Check plants and treat as needed.
- 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.
- Give palms and shrubs a final feeding of the year.
- Use a slow release fertilizer that can feed in ground and container planting for months.
- Crape myrtles are dropping their leaves which is normal as they go dormant.
- Poinsettia and azalea pruning time is over for this year except for out of bounds shoots.
- Shield poinsettias from nighttime lights starting mid month.
- The dry season is ahead; moisten only as needed to conserve water.
- Most established trees and shrubs can go a week or more between waterings.
- Check container plantings for plugged drainage holes; repotting may be 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.
House & Foliage plant care:
- 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.
- Control insects on plants before moving them indoors.
- Begin forcing amaryllis and paper white narcissus for indoor displays.
- Obtain new plants for the home.
- Remove declining foliage and faded flowers from home and patio plants.
- 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.
- Feed plants in bright light monthly.
- Water when the surface soil begins to feel dry to the touch.