This is the best month for planting woody shrubs, trees, and herbaceous perennials. Our year-round garden centers are well stocked with great plant selections—remember that fall is for planting!

For Fresh Color

October is the prime month to plant spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, and more. If summer flower pots are beginning to fade, replant with 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.

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 and 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 problem is identified. 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 vegetable and flower garden. Dry, date, label, and store in a cool and dry location.

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 the 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

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.

In the Garden Shed

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 (12-14 hours) in early October.

Place hanging pots of fuchsias where they will not freeze; don’t cut back until spring.

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.

Check/treat houseplants, tender plants, and tropical succulents for disease and insects before bringing indoors.

Basic Pruning

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 Fun

Make a fall arrangement using pumpkins or gourds; cut the top off and carve a pumpkin to use as a temporary planter for some seasonal color, or take an uncut pumpkin, spray with craft glue, stick dried moss on top of the pumpkin, 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. Check our website for upcoming classes!

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