There’s not a lot going on in the garden this month which is good because chances are your time is full of other commitments. Now is a great time to work on your plans for next year’s garden. Pull out the notes you’ve made throughout the year and make your revisions on paper before you tackle the projects in the spring. Do maintenance on your gardening tools. Oil shovels, picks and spades to prevent rusting. Clean, sharpen and oil other tools to keep them in good shape for when you need them in the spring.
Color: There are still a lot of varieties available as both annuals and perennials. Plant a combination of red and white flowers for holiday cheer. Alyssum, Bacopa, Begonia, Cyclamen, Dianthus, Geranium, Gerbera, Impatiens, Osteospermum, Pansy, Salvia, and Verbena are among a few. Poinsettias, which are native to Mexico, can also be used as color in the garden. They’ll be happiest on a drip system which will keep the leaves dry.
Fruits & Vegetables: Plant bare root fruit trees this month. Prune established fruit trees once they’ve dropped their leaves. Spray as needed following manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Cut back grape vines. Artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels’ sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, kale, lettuce, peas, potatoes and radishes can all be planted now. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
Lawn: Fill in thin spots with a little more seed if you over seeded the lawn last month. If we get a hot spell, you may want to supplemental water. Mow as necessary.
Roses & Flowers: Stop watering and fertilizing established roses this month and let them harden unless we get
a heat wave. Bare root roses can be planted this month. Now is a good time to transplant roses.
Remember to take as much of the roots as possible and keep well watered.
Irrigation: Do a test run on your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. Watch your system carefully. If it rains, turn the system off and save the water.
Also: Natives can also be pruned lightly now in order to maintain a uniform shape.
Cut back Wisteria. Remove the long, thin branches that have become intertwined with the old wood.
If you haven’t done so yet, plant your bulbs. Bulbs that don’t need to be refrigerated can be planted until December 25th. If you wait longer than that, you run the chance of having fewer, smaller flowers. Other bulbs with higher cold requirements need to be planted in cold soil. If the weather is cool, between Christmas and New Years, plant then. Otherwise wait until the soil temperature drops being sure to plant before January 10th.
Protect tender plants from frost by covering them with a non-plastic material when frost threatens. Keeping plantings well hydrated will help frost survival also. A turgid plant will recover from frost better than a dry plant. Should a frost damage your garden, don’t be tempted to prune off the damaged parts. They’ll help protect the plant from further damage should another frost occur. Trim these parts off later in the year when all risk of frost has past.
There is a lot to do in your landscape this month. It’s time to get out there to plan ahead for spring and prepare for winter storms. Soil temperatures are still warm and the digging is easy. Get out there and plant, plant, plant!
Color: Pansies planted now will provide beautiful color through the winter months. Columbine, Cyclamen, Poppies, Primrose, Ranunculus, Snapdragon, Stock and Viola will all add a nice splash of color to your garden.
Fruits & Vegetables: Plant containerized fruit trees and bushes now. Don’t plant bare root plants until next month. Fruit trees should be sprayed for pests in 6 week intervals when the trees are in their dormant stages. An easy way to remember the schedule is to spray around the following holidays; Thanksgiving (when the last leaf has fallen), New Years Day (the height of dormancy) and Valentine’s Day (when the buds begin to swell). Remember to follow the manufacturer’s directions for application carefully. Prune old canes of berries (except raspberries) back to the ground leaving the new canes to produce fruit next year. Plant vegetables like artichokes, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, garlic, lettuce, onion, peas, radishes, spinach and turnips. Plant strawberries.
Roses & Flowers: Stop fertilizing roses this month and prune lightly. Save the hard pruning for January. Most varieties of Hydrangeas bloom on year-old stems. Don’t be tempted. Pruning now will reduce the number of flowers you have next year. To try to get blue or purple blooms on plants with normally pink flowers, apply Aluminum Sulfate now. Mulch around Camellias, Azaleas and other Rhododendrons with a high acid mulch. Removing smaller buds on Camellias will result in larger flowers later on.
Also: Cut back the ornamental grasses when they begin to show signs of new growth.
November is the time to plant natives. Even though they’re drought tolerant, they need to be watered (see water schedules for your local water agency) until they’re established.
If you haven’t done so yet, plant your bulbs. Now is the time also to divide Agapanthus, Iris, Moraea and Daylilies and transplant evergreen shrubs. (Though not tender tropicals.)
Prepare for winter rains. Trim or thin trees with heavy top branches so the wind moves through them easily. If you’re going to trim them yourself, research proper pruning methods to avoid mistakes that may cause problems later on. Double check stakes on young trees.
Not all of your work is outside. Reposition houseplants so that they benefit from the winter sunlight. Keep them away from drafts and the heat from fireplaces or heating vents.
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.
September is a great time of year in your landscape. The ornamental grasses that you’ve planted should be flowering right now and at their peak. With the days shortening, be careful not to water too late in the day to discourage diseases – and – with the drought in effect – don’t forget the watering schedules your water district has enforced: http://www.sdcwa.org/find-your-water-district/. Fertilize your entire garden. At the minimum, an easy way to remember when to fertilize is to do it on the first day of the three growing seasons; the first day of spring, the first day of summer and the first day of fall. Mark your calendar for September 21st. A good all-purpose fertilizer can be used on most of your plants including fruit trees. Fertilize Azaleas, Camellias and Gardenias with a high acid fertilizer. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
Color: Now is the time to plant Delphinium, Dianthus and Digitalis. Mums should be available also along with Iceland Poppies, Primula, Snapdragons and Stock. Marigolds and Petunias may be looking a little tired. Clip old blooms to stretch their time in the garden. Begin planting spring bulbs this month. Plant in masses in the ground or in pots to create a spectacular spring show. The iris in your garden can be cut back and divided now in preparation for next spring.
Fruits & Vegetables: In mild winter climates, plant your first crop of lettuce. Plant every few weeks to have a continual crop. Plant beets, broccoli, cabbage, onions, peas and spinach also. Don’t plant during a heat wave.
Roses & Flowers: Keep deadheading all flowers to prolong the bloom period. Fertilize roses now to encourage blooms next 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 maintain the watering schedule for plants in pots that are not part of the irrigation system. Rinse off the foliage in your landscape to remove dust from plants which can be a habitat for mites and other insects.
If it freezes where you live, put a thick layer of mulch down to help protect the roots during the upcoming cooler temperatures.
In your vegetable or flower garden, add a layer of compost (2-3 inches for good soil, 4-6 inches for clay or sandy soil). Mixing this in now will put needed nutrients back into the soil and you’ll reap the benefits in the crops you plant now and in the spring.
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.