Fall has been a bit strange this year. It has been hot but surely there is some cool weather on the way. Here is hoping it is not like the 80's with warm to hot days in to December then a sudden freeze. If you lived here you probably remember the cold of 83, 85 and 89 that were devastating. But we gardeners have to get ready for what every comes, sort of blowing in to our neighborhoods. Here is how to get the plants prepared for fall.
Early November is still feeding time for many plants. Shrubs, perennials and ground covers can have a landscape fertilizer applied whenever you are ready. Annual flowers and vegetable plantings are fertilized monthly if in the ground or every other week when in containers. Take some of the work out of feedings by using a slow release fertilizer that may supply the needed nutrients for three month or so as noted on the label.
Groom outdoor foliage plants that are going to be brought back indoors for the colder months. If they are staying outside, find the warmer spots to give them protection when temperatures below 40 degrees are expected. Some may need repotting and all probably need a fall feeding.
It is too late for many of the warm season vegetables unless you are ready to provide some heroic cold protection. The first frost could arrive in mid December a time when late planted tomatoes and peppers would be coming into production. If you do want to plant some of the favorite crops in this category obtain the biggest plants possible and maybe with fruits. Otherwise, it is cool season crop time.
You may not be thinking of the holiday season ahead but some gardeners are getting ready. One big question is what to do with the poinsettias? One thing for sure is pruning time is over. During the next few months do keep the plants moist, feed them regularly and control any pests. Plants in containers are best fed with a slow release fertilizer.
Place your holiday cactus on a lean diet. Keep the waterings to only when the surface soil feels dry to the touch. Too much water now and through the winter can cause rot problems. Also feeding time is over until next spring.
All holiday plants should receive only normal day light starting in mid October - no nighttime light. Any night light, even a flash, could delay or keep them from flowering. Yes, street lights count too. Many gardeners want to know why their plant did not flower as expected. Well, it is normally a light related problem.
- Most warm season crops weathered our late summer- early fall storms and are producing.
- Heavy winds made it obvious trellises and cages need to be firmly anchored in the ground.
- It is time to plant the cool season crop but hope for some cool weather..
- Teach younger family members to garden by helping plant and tend the crops.
- Remove declining crops and fill their spaces with new ones to keep the garden productive.
- Add monthly plantings of each crop to have a continual supply.
- Tomato and pepper planting time is over until spring.
- Herbs like the cooler weather too; begin new plantings and revive older ones.
- Try growing herbs in containers that are easy to maintain and can be moved as needed.
- Allow garden soils to dry a little; water when the surface soil begins to dry to the touch.
- Improve sandy soils with garden soil, compost, peat moss and composted manure.
- Feed in ground gardens every 3 to 4 weeks; use composted manure or a garden fertilizer.
- Use a slow release fertilizer to feed container plantings following label instructions.
- Maintain a mulch between plants and rows to conserve water and control weeds.
- Feeding time for citrus and other fruit trees is over.
- Water citrus trees once or twice each week during the dry times.
- Add new citrus or other fruiting trees to the landscape.
- Feeding time is over for bahia, centipede and zoysia lawns.
- Give St. Augustine lawns one more feeding with a winterizer fertilizer around mid month.
- Brown or large patch disease can be severe in zoysia; apply a fungicide in early November.
- Fall is a good time to sod or plug problem areas in lawns; delay bahia seeding until spring.
- Less water is needed during cool weather; reduce waterings to when the grass begins to wilt.
- Eastern Standard Time returns November 6; in most areas watering is limited to once a week.
- Water lawns separately from trees and shrubs that need less moisture.
- Repair and adjust sprinklers to water efficiently
- Chinch bug and caterpillar control may still be needed during warm fall weather.
- Have lawn soil tested by the University of Florida lab to ensure a proper feeding.
- Lawns low in potassium can be given extra winter protection with a late month application.
- Apply herbicides for your lawn type if needed for broadleaf and sedge weed control.
- Continue mowing at normal heights.
- Aerate hard to wet, compacted and nematode infected soils.
- Continue to remove damaged and declining limbs from summer storms.
- Fill voids left by storms with new trees, shrubs and ground covers.
- Fall is a good time to repot, groom, feed and control pests of container plantings.
- Make plans to prevent damage to cold sensitive landscape plants.
- Keep the root balls of new plantings moist with frequent hand waterings.
- Fall is a good time to renew mulches; only a light topping is normally needed.
- Pruning time is over for azaleas, gardenias, hydrangeas and camellias.
- Complete pruning of other plants early to allow new growth to mature before winter.
- Only remove declining fronds and flower or fruiting stalks from palms to maintain vigor.
- Palm diseases may be spread by pruners; disinfect at least between palms.
- It is time to plant petunias but you may want to delay pansy plantings until next month.
- Make sure poinsettias receive no nighttime light; keep the soil moist and feed monthly.
- Complete all tree, palm and shrub feedings by mid-month.
- Reduce feedings of orchids and bromeliads in the landscape as the weather cools.
Foliage and house plant care
- Holiday poinsettias arrive this month and can last into the new year with good care.
- Water holiday cactus and kalanchoe when the soil dries to the touch; keep poinsettias moist.
- Remember, no night time light for holiday plants until they begin to bloom.
- Discontinue holiday plant feedings; reduce foliage plant feedings to every other month.
- Wash away dust and plant pests with a soapy water solution
- Check and treat outdoor plants for insects before bringing them indoors.
- Begin moving cold sensitive foliage plants indoors.
Flowers: Ageratum, alyssum, baby's breath, black-eyed Susan, bush daisy, calendula, California poppy, candytuff, carnation, cat's whiskers, chrysanthemum, cleome, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, dusty miller, foxglove, gaillardia, geranium, goldenrod, heliotrope, hollyhocks, Iceland poppy, impatiens, larkspur, lobelia, ornamental cabbage & kale, pansy, petunia, phlox, salvia, shasta daisy, snapdragon, stock, sweet pea, verbena, viola and wax begonias.
Vegetables: Beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, collard, endive, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onion, pea, radicchio, radish, rhubarb, rutabaga, spinach, Swiss chard and turnip.
Herbs: anise, arugula, basil, borage, chive, cardamon, chervil, cilantro, coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, lavender, lemon balm, lovage, Mexican tarragon, mint, nasturtium, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, thyme and watercress.
Bulbs: African iris, amaryllis, anemone, bulbine, crinum, day lily, rain lily, ranunculus, society garlic, spider lily and narcissus; refrigerated Dutch iris, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and similar bulbs needing a cold treatment before flowering.