October Gardening To Do’s

October is a great month to clean up summer gardens and prepare for winter landscapes. You will see an endless supply of pansies and violas at the nursery, which both provide non-stop color throughout the dreary winter. Now is the time to prepare your fall vegetable garden as well. So much fun this time of year and the temperatures are great too!

Vegetable and Flower Gardens:

  • Pansies and violas should be planted around mid-October when temperatures have begun to cool. They love a nice comfy bed, so add some planting mix or organic matter and feed them.  They are heavy feeders!
  • Other plants that can give you color this time of year are Snapdragons, Ornamental Kale and Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Dianthus and Euphorbia.
  • Bulbs should be planted when soil temperatures have dropped to 60 degrees which is usually in November.  You can purchase the bulbs now and keep them in a cool place until it is time to plant them.  If the bulbs haven’t been pre-chilled, place them in a breathable bag in the refrigerator for the length of time recommended on the package.
  • Paperwhites and Amaryllis can be started in pots and forced to bloom indoors.
  • Now is a good time to add perennials to your landscape.  Perennials can be placed in groupings around shrubs so that if they go dormant during the winter, the shrubs will still be there to provide interest.
  • Fall vegetables can be planted this month, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, collards, kale, onions, and garlic.
  • If you are not planting a fall vegetable garden, seed with a cover crop such as alfalfa, which will feed the soil for your spring garden.

Shrubs and Trees:

  • This is the ideal time for adding new shrubs to your yard.  The soil temperatures are still fairly warm and the air temperature is cooling.  This means that shrubs don’t get stressed and can ease into their new location, ready to burst into bloom when spring arrives!
  • It is also an ideal time for adding new trees.
  • Rake up leaves under shrubs and trees.  This will help you avoid pest and disease problems in the spring. Leaves are a great addition to your compost pile.
  • Limit pruning this time of year; you don’t want to stimulate new growth which will then just get zapped by a freeze. However, feel free to tidy up any unruly looking plants.


  • If you haven’t fertilized your Bermuda grass go ahead and do it now with a winterizer fertilizer. Fescue can be fertilized now also. Do not fertilize Zoysia, Centipede or St. Augustine this time of year.
  • Don’t forget about a pre-emergent weed control!  If you didn’t do this in September, do it now.  The pre-emergent will stop the spring weeds from germinating, saving you time and hassle later on.

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