October Garden Tips

Professor Hooticulture garden tip owlWelcome to Garden View’s monthly gardening tips. We hope you find this information useful and check back often as we will feature new tips each month as well as new articles to the right.

Fall is Planting time; Planting in fall gets the roots established (they grow more in fall and winter) so in spring the plants are prepared for the surge of growth. Planting in fall saves water. This is the time to transplant bulbs and split perennials. However, it’s not a good time to fertilize deciduous fruit trees because it can encourage growth at the wrong time of year. Though many magazines and newspapers recommend fertilizing now which may be acceptable in other climate zones; it is not a good idea in our climate.

October Gardening Check List:

Split Plants

Agapanthus africanis - Lily of the Nile(Left): It is a good time to dig up and split overgrown perennials that grow in clumps such as Clivia, Iris, Agapanthus (left), Gingers, Daylilies, Bird of Paradise, etc.

Deciduous Type Daylilies

wine red daylilies in sidewalk planter in Monrovia, CA(right): Cut to 4″, fertilize and put in snail bait.

Bird of ParadiseStrelitzia reginae

Strelitzia reginae - Bird of Paradise Flower(left): remove stems after flowers have faded. With some care you can split and plant new clumps.

Ivy Geranium

(right): responds well to some trimming this month. Feed with a balanced fertilizer. Continue to progressively prune on all types of Geranium. Cut back Geranium sanguin if you have not done it yet.

Plant Winter Annuals/Spring Colors

(left): Set out soon, calendulas, pansies, Iceland poppies, and primroses could be blooming for the holidays. Also look for these in cell-packs or 4 inch pots; bedding begonias, candytuft, Chrysanthemum multicaule, C. paludosum, delphinium, dianthus, foxglove, lobelia, penstemon, phlox, snapdragon, stock, pansy and viola. Along the coast, include calceolaria, cineraria, nemesia, and schizanthus.

Santa Barbara Daisy – Erigeron karvinskianus

(right): Cut back and fertilize it after it finishes blooming. Garden View Crews usually do this twice a year. This is a great low growing creeping ground cover that is water wise.

Cool Season Lawns

(like Marathon or other hybrid fescues) can be cut shorter now. In the winter we usually fertilize cool season lawns with a complete fertilizer that includes some calcium nitrate for a quick green up since it takes so long in the winter for fertilizer to green up the grass. Though there are companies that fertilize lawns on a schedule at Garden View we think it is more appropriate to fertilize on an “as needed” basis when the grass is telling us it needs it.

Warm Season Lawns

(Like Bermuda, St. Augustine, and Kikuya) will stay green longer into the winter if fertilized in October. Overseeding of Bermuda can take place this month and next. We recommend a perennial rye grass for this because it germinates quickly and doesn’t get slime mold like annual Rye grass does. Annual Rye grass uses more water; it is also much more difficult to mow. St. Augustine may survive overseeding though we do not recommend it. In shade the St Augustine may not grow back in spring. If overseeding is done dethatching of the St Augustine should be done first. Garden View Crews will be over-seeding this month and next on most Fescue (Marathon) lawns that have common Bermuda invading them. The crews usually seed the section that has the infestation only. It is very difficult to eliminate Bermuda infestations. There are chemicals that minimally help controlling it but once it is in your lawn the cost/ benefit in time, money and effort is usually not worth the energy to try and eliminate it. Sometimes we will spray the infested area with Round Up prior to reseeding. This helps keep the Bermuda in check but inevitably the Bermuda comes back anyways. In smaller infestations good horticultural practices to keep it in check is usually the best answer.

Trim Impatiens

(left): Impatiens are generally treated as warm season annuals in Southern California. Trimming Impatiens down to 3″-4″ above the ground while the weather is still warm may help impatiens survive or look better during winter months. Impatiens will often survive through the winter in protected areas but even if they survive they usually become leggy and unattractive, showing a lot of stem and very little leaf and flower. The cold weather usually kills the layer of leaf on top of the already leggy plant, this exposes just bare stems. By trimming the impatiens before the cold winter hits the plant sends out a new flush of leaves that are more resistant to the cold and have more layers, so if one layer of leaves gets damaged from frost the next layer still looks acceptable. The trimming may make the impatiens unattractive for a short time but the longer life of the plant should make this short inconvenience worthwhile.

Do Not Fertilize or Prune:

(any more than necessary) frost-tender plants like bougainvillea, citrus, hibiscus, natal plum (right), and thevetia unless the plants look pale or yellowish. Doing so now would stimulate new growth too close to winter.

Angel’s TrumpetBrugmansia

Angel's Trumpet Tree(left) Maintenance/Pruning: Train a central leader when angel’s trumpet is young if you would like to grow it in tree form. The Brugmansia Growers International advises: “The best time to trim your plant is in the fall. Always keep at least 6-10 nodes on the branches above the Y for flowers the following year. It is the branches that are above the Y which will produce next year’s flowers.” You don’t really need to prune angel’s trumpet at all unless it is getting in the way.

Bulbs, Corms, Tubers

Not all need to be planted right away, but it’s a good idea to buy them soon, while nursery supplies last. In addition to traditional Tulips, anemone, daffodil, Dutch iris, narcissus, and ranunculus-try some less common kinds; allium, babiana, freesia, homeria, ixia, ornithogalum, scilla, sparaxis, tritonia, and watsonia; all do well in Southern California’s mild-winter climate.

Bulbs 101:

Bulbs are actually several kinds of plants with specializes roots or stem bases that store nutrients and energy for the plants growth. There are bulbs for most seasons, many of the perennial plants we admire most are bulbs or related plants. When most of us think about using bulbs in the garden we are planting them for the short and dynamic period of flowers that they produce. Most bulbs need to be planted a season before they bloom. The most popular time for planting bulbs is in fall and winter so we can enjoy their spring blooms. Different bulbs are planted at different depths. Click Here to Learn More About Bulbs!

Plant Lawns

This month is prime time for planting new cool-season lawns. Sod, which is the best alternative needs to stay moist while new roots grow, especially during hot spells. This may mean sprinkling two or three times a day. Re-seed thin spots in existing lawns or patch with sod (sold by the square foot in many nurseries), remember to first pull out dead debris and scratch up the soil.

Plant Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, and Vines

Since most permanent plants get their best start in fall, October is a good time to add new ones, replace old ones, or start a new garden from scratch. In inland areas, leave open areas for citrus and heat-loving subtropicals (plant these in spring).

Plant Vegetables

As summer crops fade, plug in winter replacements. From seed, sets, or transplants, your choices include beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, chives, garlic, leeks, lettuce (loose-leaf and head), onions, parsley, peas, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips. For salads, sow seeds now of arugula (roquette), chicory, endive, Oriental broccoli, and mustard and turnip greens.

Prune and Stake

Santa Ana winds are less likely to damage trees if you thin out dense tops. Stake or guy newly planted trees that aren’t yet firmly rooted. Don’t prune Oak trees any more than absolutely necessary until next summer. It is however time to prune pine trees.

Sow Flowers

Sweet peas grow easily from seed, as do a number of other or spring flowers. For a bulb cover or a spring wildflower look, sow sweet alyssum, baby blue eyes, bachelor’s buttons, California poppy, clarkia, and forget-me-not directly in the ground.
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