In the Garden

According to the calendar fall is here. Have you noticed? I’m not convinced. Early each morning I step outside eager to revel in that almost imperceptible atmospheric shift that signals autumn’s cooler, less humid weather. However, despite shorter days and the southerly migration of the sun. But I have yet to feel exhilarated. The abundant rains of earlier have disappeared and, at least in our garden, everything growing seems to be begging for attention and water.

Whatever the weather there is a lot to do in the October garden, so get out there, assess your landscaping and develop a plan of action. Perhaps focus on planting for pollinators. The most important thing to do in your garden is to enjoy it! So, if you don’t want to devote lots of time and effort adjust your landscape plan accordingly.

Happy Gardening!

What to Plant

Trees of almost any variety can be planted this month. See:

Flowers - Refresh flowerbeds with cool-season annuals: alyssum, calendula, chrysanthemum, dianthus, geranium, petunia, snapdragon, pansy, flowering tobacco, stock, and flowering kale.

Ornamental Plants Resource:

Poinsettias – No more pruning and keep them out of any light at night.

Bulbs to enhance the landscape include Lily-of-the-Nile (Agapanthus), amaryllis, calla, crinum, Aztec lily (Sprekelia), Anemone, Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), Snowflake (Leucojum), Kaffir lily (Clivia), Walking iris (Neomarica), Narcissus, Iris (not German or Japanese), Watsonia (Watsonia spp.), Spider lily (Hymenocallis sp.), African iris (Moraea spp.), Tritonia crocata var. miniata and rain lily (Zephyranthes spp.).

Strawberries do well in our area if planted between October 1 through the end of November. They like growing in containers where it makes it easy to keep them watered, especially as they are starting out. For optimal varieties, planting and care

Grow Vegetables from Seed – it’s inexpensive and fun

Vegetable seeds that can be sown in October for planting in November are beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions- bulbing, bunching and multipliers, English peas, spinach and turnips. Sow carrot and radish seeds directly in the soil, no deeper than ½-inch.

Take a look at this organic vegetable gardening guide with suggested varieties for Florida: Planting-Guide.pdf

Radishes are especially gratifying because they are ready to harvest in about 20-30 days. Plant seeds every ten days to two weeks to have a continuous crop. Plant seeds in fertile, water-retentive soil and thin seedlings so they are spaced about an inch apart.

Radish leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant. Sautéed the greens are delicious and provide significant amounts of vitamins A, C, K, calcium, iron, magnesium and folate.


Fertilize – Restrict fertilization to plants that clearly need it. In general, established trees don’t need fertilization. If plants aren’t doing well used a controlled-release fertilizer like Lesco 8-2-10, Landscape & Ornamental Fertilizer, 100% sulfur-coated slow release. Don’t apply fertilizer close to tree trunk. In the past woody shrubs like hibiscus and ixora were armed for cold weather by applying a fertilizer high in potassium, such as Fertilome Winterizer or Sunniland Bloom Special. With increasingly warmer winters this is no longer critical.

See Nutrient Deficiencies (Landscape Plants):

Lawns - Fertilize Bahia and St. Augustine lawns with a complete 15-0-5 fertilizer with at least 50% slow release formulation. This is the last yearly fertilization for these lawn types.

See Lawn Fertilizer :

See: General Recommendations for Fertilization of turf grass on Florida Soils

Palms – have unique nutritional needs and are an exception to the rule that established trees don’t routinely fertilizer. Use a fertilizer with controlled release nitrogen, potassium and magnesium. See: Palm Nutrition & Fertilization:

Prune - It’s time to give hedges and shrubs a final trimming before the dormant season. Remove all dead or diseased wood from your shrubs and trees. To keep from spreading disease when pruning, always wipe blades clean and then spray Lysol on all pruning equipment and let it air dry.

In addition to maintaining a pleasing form, pruning helps perennials to rebloom and stay healthy. For shrubby perennials like lantana and pentas, prune only the tips of each stalk down to the next set of leaves. This encourages branching, bushiness and more blooms. Pinch coleus blooms to promote fullness.

For perennials that form long stalks like scarlet milkweed, ruellia, vincas, and salvias, remove the lankiest stalks all the way to the last node. More stalks will fill in where you’ve pruned. Herbaceous perennials without branches, such as agapanthus, gingers and clivia, don’t need pruning at this time.

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