October in the Garden

by Jane & Wilson Grahame

Many things mentioned in September apply to this month as well.


  •  Continue to weed.
  •  Compost spent annuals
  •  Lift and divide perennials usually every 3-4 years, but Shasta Daisies every 2 years.  Tender plants should be divided in the spring after the last frost – cistus (rock rose), rosemary, agapanthus, grey leafed plants  (artemesia).  Also leave pruning of hardy fuchsias until spring.
  •  Peonies are susceptible to Botrytis so prune to below the soil and put in the garbage, don’t compost.
  •  Transplant evergreen trees and shrubs but wait until deciduous ones have lost their leaves and are dormant.
  •  Plant bulbs well into November.
  •  Remember to water plants under the eaves once a month over the winter.
  •  Don’t leave fruit on the ground – it provides winter homes for diseases and insects.
  •  Tuberous begonias need digging up or removing from pots and storing.  Dahlias and Gladioli can be left in if it is a very well drained area, or, after the first frost prune to 6”, dig up, clean and dry the tubers, bulb dust and store in a cool, dry place.
  •  Hybrid Tea Roses – cut down by 1/3 (leave final and more careful pruning until spring), water deeply and mulch.  Take all leaves off and put in the garbage.  Clean up around the plants.
  •  Apply fall fertilizer low in nitrogen to lawns.
  •  Remove leaves from the lawn, as they are a haven for pests and diseases.  The lawnmower, weed eater or mulcher will cut up big leaves like maples before composting.
  •  Plant lupin seeds.  Many plants take nitrogen from the soil but lupins return nitrogen to the soil.
  •  Take lawn equipment in for servicing.
  •  Inspect all you hand tools and do repairs.   A bucket of sand saturated with motor oil (10w40 or 10w30) will clean and oil shovels.
  •  In the Water Garden – do not drain and do not change the water by more than 30% at a time.  If there is a lot of bottom debris scoop it out and compost it.
  •  Empty frost-tender clay pots, wash, dry and store.
  •  Bring in pots of geraniums, prune back by 1/3, remove dead bottom leaves and keep dry.
  •  Drain and store hoses.
  •  When you have done all this, take a big mug of steaming tea out into the garden and enjoy the last few rays of sun for the year and think about how wonderful your garden is going to look next spring.

Posted in Gardening Tips