Southeast Gardener's October Checklist

Fall for me brings the beginning of the new gardening season, and October is fall’s most festive month. Shorter days and cooler temperatures mean earning crops for a changing season. I am not sure what excites me more: the foliage colour change or the further light from fewer leaves on the trees.

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Plant annuals. Kale, cabbages, mustards, pansies, snapdragons and violas are annuals which are colorful, long lasting and inexpensive; I’ve often wondered why they are so underused.

Purchase pansies and violas once the selection is best, as soon as September, but wait till late October to plant them. Early October can be too hot to plant, but do not wait till then to purchase, or the selection will probably be too scarce. Nurse the plants in a holding area if you need to to make certain you get your top choice.

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Transplant trees and shrubs. Are you waiting to rearrange a few trees and shrubs? Now, with all the heating temperatures, is a good time to start the procedure.

It’s ideal to root prune this month and transplant 30 days (or more) later. This allows woody ornamentals a chance to recover before being transported to their new site. Root pruning sparks small feeder roots near the back. These brand new roots will probably be dug as part of their transplant, permitting the tree or tree to adapt.
Water the soil well the day before root pruning. Prune out in the back a 10- to 12-inch-diameter root ball for every inch of trunk diameter. Consequently, a 2-inch-diameter back will probably be root pruned about two feet in the trunk.Using a flat spade, start cutting a trench about 24 inches deep. If you crash into big roots, cut loppers.Continue cutting a circular trench around the tree trunk and water completely.

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Split peonies. In case your herbaceous peony has gotten too large for its existing location, or if you just need to move or share it, it may be split after the first frost.

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Prepare your houseplants for winter. Many of us like to give our indoor houseplants a summer vacation outside, but the summertime is about to end. It’s time to bring those plants back inside.

Throughout the summer you may have found that your crops grew a lot, and errant branches are in need of a little pruning. Herbaceous plants may just be pinched back, but use clippers on woody stems. Be sure to remove any stalks or leaves that are dead or diseased.

Repot plants whose roots are growing out of the drainage holes or are in the soil’s surface. Select a container that’s only 1 size larger than the older one; otherwise leading growth may be retarded while the roots try to fill up the excess space.

Clean the leaves of dust and dirt which gathered during the summertime. This covering may interfere with a plant’s capacity to turn light into food. A gentle spray from the garden hose and a mild wipe with a sponge are often adequate.

A light application of insecticidal soap is a smart precaution prior to bringing back your plants inside, even if you haven’t seen signs of pests. Spider mites and other pests thrive in a dry, heated house and will multiply rapidly, if current.

As soon as they’re inside, find your plants where they will receive as much natural light as possible. When you water them so thoroughly but less frequently in winter than you did in the summertime.

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Plant cool-season vegetables. The cooler fall temperatures bring cool-season plants. It’s time to plant or seed spinach and collards. Also, lettuce and pineapple will once more thrive in your backyard.

Consider trying some new types this season, or vary your normal choices. Why not add some red-leaf lettuce? Loose-leaf red lettuce packs a high nutrient value, including being an fantastic supply of beta-carotene.

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Water well before winter. In case October and November are dry, give perennials a deep final soaking so that they go dormant in great states. They’ll be less subject to being killed in winter with a beverage till they sleep.

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Compost those leaves. Use a mower equipped with a mulching blade to chop fallen leaves on the pot. These leaves make a excellent addition to garden beds or the compost heap.

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Prepare beds. It’s also a great time to prepare garden beds for next year.
Mark brand new beds (or even the beds you want to extend) with marking paint or a hose. Cut a border, turning this dirt to the new bed, and cover 8 to 10 layers of newspaper. Cover with about 4 inches of leaves that are chopped or composted leaf mulch.Now sit back and let nature take her course. Your bed will be ready for planting in the spring.

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Enjoy wildlife. Don’t be so quick to tidy up. The remains of this summer and autumn garden give refuge, food and cover for wildlife, while also adding winter interest to garden beds.

Pictured here is a praying mantis egg case I found one year whilst cutting back my backyard. It was at this point I learned to slow down my autumn pruning before the spring, once the leaves were removed off and overwintering wildlife was easier to see.

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Watch out for canna leaf roller. Cannas are great accent plants and attract hummingbirds to the garden. Plus, most canna cultivars are hardy from the Southeast and may overwinter in the floor. If you found your canna foliage riddled with holes, you probably have leaf roller. Canna leaf rollers are major pests in the Southeast, inducing the beautiful foliage to become unsightly.

After the first frost, cut the leaves to the floor and eliminate it in the backyard. Control overwintering pests are helped by taking away the foliage. Don’t mulch, since the pest may overwinter.

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