The heat wave we had in September is cooling off. Now – let’s focus on October. October is prime planting month. It’s a good time to plant trees, shrubs, color, groundcover, vegetables roses and of course fruit trees. Get out there and start making the changes you’ve considered this past year. The results of much of the planting and pruning you do now will be evident later on. The soil temperature is still warm which will encourage root growth. Planting now will allow you to take advantage of the winter rains and you’ll see the benefits when the days lengthen in the spring.
Color: Remove the annual color you planted last spring and get ready to replant. If you look at a plant and wonder ‘will it recover?’ the answer is ‘no’. Discard it and replace it with winter color such as Pansy, Kale, Primula, Schizanthus and Viola. Each year there seem to be more exciting cultivars available along with the old favorites. Mix and match to add some fun to your fall color.
Fruits & Vegetables: Keep fruit and vegetables picked to avoid rot spreading to the rest of the crop. Remove vegetable plants that are past their bearing season. Keep the area under the fruit trees clean to discourage disease. Now is the time to plant strawberries for harvest in the spring. Also plant, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes, peas and lettuce.
Lawn: Consider removal of your lawn, considering the drought. However – if you keep your lawn, continue to mow weekly and fertilize monthly. Treat dead patches in your lawn with the appropriate fungicide or insecticide to control the problem. Then reseed to have a strong lawn in the spring. Now is also a good time to aerate your lawn.
Roses & Flowers: Feed and water roses deeply to promote a strong fall blooming season. Dead-head all varieties to prolong the flowering period. Plant wildflower seed.
Consider adding some ornamental grasses to your landscape. The movement and texture they provide is a great compliment to leafy plants and they’re virtually maintenance free and very water efficient.
If you haven’t done so yet, plant your bulbs. For bulbs that need a longer period of cold to bloom effectively (tulips & hyacinth), place them in a paper bag in the refrigerator away from fruit. Now is the time also to divide Agapanthus, Iris, Moraea and Daylilies.
Prepare for Santa Ana conditions. Trim trees with heavy top branches. Water deeply and thoroughly. Double check stakes on young trees. During the winds, water lightly and frequently to help keep the moisture in your landscape.
With longer days and increased heat, August is the time of year where your garden is stressed the most. Remember three important watering tips: 1) water in the morning, 2) water the roots not the leaves, 3) it’s better to water deep occasionally than water shallow often. Now is a good time to take a serious look at your garden to determine any changes that you may want to make during cooler months.
Color: Assess your annual and perennial color. If an annual is looking peaked, it’s best just to dig it up and discard it. A perennial that’s not looking its best can be cut back a couple of inches and it should rejuvenate quickly. Continue to deadhead spent flowers for a long lasting bloom season.
Fruits & Vegetables: Trim suckers off fruit trees and vines. Supplemental water shallow root trees such as Citrus & Avocado. Watch for evidence of thrips.
Lawn: Continue to fertilize your lawn monthly through October. Raising the blade on your lawnmower and allowing the blades to grow to 2-2 ½” will help keep the ground moisture in your lawn. Also, mowing weekly will help keep weeds at bay.
Roses & Flowers: Deadhead roses and feed after the bloom cycle. Keep deadheading all flowers to prolong the bloom period. Trim back hanging baskets that may be starting to look unruly. Pinch back Impatiens that may be starting to stretch.
Prepare for the fire season by removing dead branches and leaves from trees and shrubs. Cut tall grasses and weeds to stubble. Remove dead leaves which are considered fuel from gutters and around the base of structures. If you don’t have an evacuation plan established, get one and make sure all the members of your family are aware of it.
Like every month, do a test run on your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. Make sure that you establish a watering schedule for plants in pots that are not part of the irrigation system. Move plants in pots that seem to be in a constant state of wilt into a shadier spot for the next couple of months.
Heat can bring on attacks from garden pests in all forms. Watch for rust, spider mites, caterpillars, thrips, scale and grubs along with a multitude of other pests. Be sure to treat effectively always following the manufacturer’s instructions to halt the problem before it gets out of control.
Your garden will respond this month to the long days of sunshine and warm weather. The annuals you planted earlier in the year should be looking their best and the fruit trees should be loaded with fruit. Some of the vegetables you’ve planted are being harvested and your garden overall should look spectacular. Spend more time outside doing simple chores and enjoy what you’ve created.
Color: While many of your annuals are probably at their peak, it’s not too late to add a few plants to your beds and pots. Marigolds, Salvia, Zinnia, Verbena and many other varieties are available to plant in the sun. As always, bedding Begonias and Impatiens are available for the shade along with Coleus and Kalanchoe.
Fruits & Vegetables: Plums and Peaches on your fruit trees should be ready to pick and enjoy. Early crops such as beans and cucumbers may be ready to harvest this month. Remove fruit and vegetables as they ripen. Leaving them on the plant can encourage pests and diseases. You can replant now for another vegetable crop later this year. Prune spent canes off of fruiting vines.
Lawn: Raising the blade on your lawnmower and allowing the blades to grow to 2-2 ½” will help keep the ground moisture in your lawn. In consideration of the drought, be sure to establish a twice weekly watering schedule.
Roses & Flowers: Deadhead roses and feed after the bloom cycle. Keep deadheading all flowers to prolong the bloom period.
Mulch flower beds and around shrubs and trees to help retain soil moisture through these typically hottest months.
Like every month, do a test run on your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. Make sure that you establish a watering schedule for plants in pots that are not part of the irrigation system and again – be sure to establish a watering schedule in compliance with the drought mandates (all are two days a week – but check this link to find your local water agency’s rules: http://www.sdcwa.org/find-your-water-district
Viewing your landscape this month you have a real feeling of satisfaction. The flowers are in full bloom, vegetables and fruit trees are both producing and the weather has warmed up just enough to be enjoyable. Spend time in your yard. Relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors.
Color: For a quick-fix to your garden, add fast growing annuals like Petunias, Vinca, Marigolds and Zinnia. There is a plethora of color available right now to add interest to your flower beds and borders. Experiment and try something different. New varieties of Alyssum, Celosia, Coreopsis, Foxglove and Gazania are all great summer color. Plant those now. Also try Dianthus, Hollyhocks and Penstemon. For color in the shade, besides Impatiens and Begonias, try Coleus, Kalanchoe and Heuchera. Continue to pinch back faded blossoms.
Fruits & Vegetables: Summer vegetables such as squash, beans and tomatoes that are planted much after the first of the month, won’t be in the ground long enough to give you a significant crop. Get them in right away. There’s still time to plant beets, beans, melons, radishes, squash and heat tolerant lettuces. Plant the last patch of corn this month. Keep fruit and vegetables picked. Remove any fallen produce that may attract unwanted pests or encourage diseases that may spread to other parts of your landscape. Be sure to keep herbs pinched back.
Lawn: Keep in mind the water restrictions recently enforced – to irrigate ornamental landscapes no more than two days a week across the region – See more at: http://www.sdcwa.org/state-water-use-reduction-mandates-start-today for more details and your water agency’s specific watering schedule. Lightly fertilize and be sure to mow on a weekly basis. If you haven’t raised the blade on your lawn mower, raise it now to about 2 – 2 ½”. It’s also a good time to have the blade re-sharpened.
Roses & Flowers: Please see our blog – “How to take care of your roses when in a drought” for this month’s advice on roses.
Irrigation: Again, keep in mind the water restrictions enforced state-wide on June 1st. Rebates are available for switching out your irrigation products. One to take advantage of is for installing rotor type sprinklers (MP Rotators) instead of fixed spray sprinklers. These rotating sprinklers reduce runoff and put out about 1/3 the water of a regular spray head. Check the Be Water Wise website for rebates – www.bewaterwise.com. Rebates are also available for various water efficient irrigation tools such as weather based irrigation controllers and soil moisture sensors. Check the SoCal Water Smart website for details – www.socalwatersmart.com
May’s weather is often unpredictable. It can bring an occasional shower, fog and extreme heat along with what is commonly known as ‘May Gray’, overcast skies. May is also one of the busiest and most satisfying months in the garden. There is still planting to be done, some pruning, continual deadheading, mowing, weeding, mulching and much more. At the end of the day when you look back at all you’ve accomplished, you’re pleased with your efforts and satisfied with a job well done.
Color: As a guideline, most annuals and perennials take 6-8 weeks to mature from a 4″ pot. Use this timeline when planning color planting for special events you’re hosting such as graduations, weddings, and family gatherings. Plant far enough ahead so that the plants are looking their best. Feed hanging baskets and plants in pots every 3 weeks to keep them looking lush. Now is the time to plant heat loving flowers such as ageratum, asters, celosia, chrysanthemum, coleus, bedding begonias, gazania, impatiens, lobelia, marigolds, nicotiana, petunias, Shasta daisies, verbena and zinnias among many more. Try something new this season and spice up your garden. Pinch back stems to encourage full plants that will produce lots of flowers.
Fruits & Vegetables: Since the weather has warmed up, it the perfect time to plant exotic fruit trees like bananas, avocados, citrus and mangos. Keep well mulched to retain moisture. Plant beans, beets, carrots, celery, eggplant, melons and tomatoes. Pesky caterpillars are starting to appear. Treat them with a nontoxic insecticide to keep them under control. When trying to locate the elusive tomato hornworm, sprinkle the plant with water and watch for movement as they shake the water off of themselves.
Lawn: Mow at least once a week to maintain a healthy lawn. If you lowered the blade on your lawnmower in the fall raise it back up now so that the fresh cut lawn is 2″ to 2 ½” tall. This will help retain moisture in the soil when the days get hotter. Fertilize on a regular basis to stimulate a lush lawn. Weeds that appear in a lawn can be a sign of stress. Adjusting the Ph closer to 7 will help the grass overtake the weeds. Consider renting an aerator. An aerator makes holes in the surface of the law so that water can easily penetrate to the roots.
Roses & Flowers: This is your last chance to plant late blooming plants such as dahlia, gladiolus and tuberoses. To keep roses in full bloom, feed and water regularly and dead head any spent blooms. Watch for mildew and treat as soon as detected to keep it under control. For fragrance, also plant gardenias, jasmine and pittosporum. Remove spent flowers from spring bulbs but leave the foliage. Feed now for strong growth and flower production in the spring.
Irrigation: Test your sprinklers to make sure all heads and emitters are working properly. Adjust your sprinklers for longer days and the time change. Keep young plants adequately watered to help them establish in the garden. As always, avoid overhead irrigation late in the day.
Mulch, mulch, mulch– Mulching keeps the weeds down and water in while looking esthetically pleasing.
Thin fruit off of fruit trees to promote healthy growth. Branches weighed down by heavy fruit can break and distort the shape of the tree. Twist off excess fruit so the remaining fruit is spaced every 4-6 inches on alternate sides of the branch. Suckers on your fruit trees are taking nutrients away from fruit production. Remove them to encourage stronger, larger and tastier fruit. Feed and water fruit trees regularly to keep nutrient levels up. Leaves damaged from leaf curl or other diseases should be removed and disposed of. Do not mulch or compost as this will spread the disease.
Along with everything else, the weeds are growing substantially this month also. Keep on top of weeding so that seeds don’t spread around the garden. Weeding the day after watering makes the task much simpler.
Lightly prune winter and spring flowering trees and shrubs after the blooms have expired. Heavy pruning should be done later in the year when the heat has passed but before flower buds have set.