For Fresh Color
October is the prime month to plant spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, and more. Since summer flowerpots are beginning to fade, replant now with winter pansies/violas, and ornamental cabbage and kale. Add a few pots of chrysanthemums or asters and a straw bale with pumpkins or gourds to create a fall harvest feel on your front porch.
For the Lawn & Landscape
Avoid cutting back ornamental grasses, black-eyed Susan plants and other plants with late-season seed heads to leave them for the birds. If done blooming, cut roses back to chest height to reduce damage from fall & winter winds (you will cut them further down next February).
Place mulch over roots of roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, and berries after a hard frost for winter protection; this is usually best-done late month. We like to use G&B Soil Building Conditioner.
To suppress future pest problems, clean up annual flower beds by removing diseased plant material (do not add to compost); mulch with manure or garden compost to feed the soil and suppress weeds.
Monitor landscape plants for problems but don’t treat unless a pest or disease is identified. If moles and gophers are a problem, consider traps or repellants such as Bonide MoleMax.
Fall is the best time to seed and feed your lawn. The warm temperatures of the soil kick-start the germination process and the cool air temperatures allow the root systems to grow dense and strong. Cool temperatures also reduce insect and disease problems. One thing to remember when seeding your lawn is to keep the seeds moist, otherwise the seed will die. A simple thin layer of G&B Soil Building Conditioner and morning dews will help keep them moist and growing strong with additional watering as needed. Most successful lawns will be started by October 15th to give young grass time to harden-off before winter.
Test your soil with a home test kit or contact OSU extension service for a local soil testing company. Amend soil to correct deficiencies and improve as needed.
Plan for winterization of the irrigation system; knowledgeable landscape professionals can make it easy, call the garden center or 503.777.7777 to schedule an appointment.
For the Edible Garden
Best edibles to plant this month include garlic (bulbs), fava beans, overwintering onions, and shallots.
Sow cover crop seeds in empty garden beds to improve and protect the soil through winter.
Dig and divide rhubarb every 4 years, then replant and mulch with manure or Harvest Supreme soil amendment. After frost, cover asparagus and rhubarb beds with a mulch of manure or compost such as Malibu Compost or G&B Harvest Supreme.
Prune out dead fruiting canes in raspberries; train and prune primo canes.
Spray apple and stone fruit trees at leaf fall (dormant spray) to prevent various fungal and bacterial diseases. Remove and dispose of windfall apples that might be harboring apple maggot or codling moth larvae. Rake and destroy diseased leaves (apple, cherry, rose, etc.), or hot compost diseased leaves.
Save seeds from the summer vegetable and flower garden. Dry, date, label, and store in a cool and dry location for future planting or to share with friends.
In the Garden Shed
Clean, sharpen, and oil tools and equipment before storing for winter. Store garden supplies and fertilizers in a safe, dry place out of reach of children, pets, and other critters.
Place hanging pots of fuchsias where they won’t freeze; don’t cut back until spring.
Autumn (September to mid-December)
Thin: Shrubs and trees, only as needed; any other pruning may result in new growth that won’t harden off before winter
Remove: Dead branches from trees and shrubs (as needed) and branches that may be damaged or cause damage from winter wind or snow/ice
For the Indoors
October begins a period of slower growth for indoor plants, begin to slightly reduce watering frequency as the days shorten. Reduce or stop fertilizing and avoid repotting until next March.
Check/treat houseplants, tender plants and tropical succulents for disease and insects before bringing indoors. Plan to bring all tender plants in from outside by mid-October.
To force Christmas cactus to bloom in late December reduce water, place in cool area (50-55°F) and increase time in shade or darkness in early October to 12-14 hours per day.
Make a fall arrangement using pumpkins or gourds! Cut the top off of a pumpkin and carve to use as a temporary planter for some seasonal color OR take an uncut pumpkin, spray with craft glue, stick dried moss on to, and glue cuttings of sedums and succulents onto the moss. Add colorful berries and/or seed pods as embellishments to finished arrangement; mist with water twice a week.