Gardening Tips for October 2018

Dear Gardening Friends,

The strange weather continues. At least we’re getting enough rain. People have been asking if you can still divide and move perennials. Ordinarily it would be getting a little late for moving but with as warm as it has been it could be safe for hardy perennials like hosta, daisy, cone flower etc. Perennials should have at least 4 weeks to settle their roots in before the soil gets below 50 degrees. That’s the iffy part. It’s impossible to predict. I moved some ground cover a week ago and am hoping the mild weather lasts. At this point it may be safer to wait till spring. If you do transplant anything be sure to keep it well watered until the ground freezes and mulch it well after the ground does freeze. Some other thoughts on October in the garden:

  • It’s still fine for moving or planting trees and shrubs. You can do that into November.
  • Planting spring bulbs is another good October chore. Ideally they should be planted soon so they have a chance to grow some roots. However you can plant them until the ground freezes.
  • Remove any diseased plant material and discard. Make sure to remove all the infected fallen leaves around the plant also as some types of fungal spores can winter over.
  • If you have any potted perennials that haven’t been planted yet you can store them in a garage, dig the pot into the soil or place it among ground cover and cover with leaves. The important thing is to prevent the roots from freezing. If you have an open compost pile you can dig them in there and cover with leaves. It’s a good idea to hold the leaves down with deer or bird netting so they don’t blow away over the winter. This also helps prevent small critters from digging in.
  • Although fall isn’t the best time to prune many trees and shrubs, any dead or damaged branches should be trimmed. This will eliminate the possibility of them breaking during a winter storm.and damaging home, garage, etc. Any branches that have grown large enough to be in the way or in danger of poking someone in the eye should also be removed.
  • When you do the last mowing of the season leaves the mulched leaves on the lawn along with the grass clippings. It’s good “food” for the lawn.
  • If you have little flying fungus gnats all of a sudden, they likely came in in the soil of some plants you brought in to overwinter. Keep the soil on the dry side and that will solve the problem. The larva of the gnats live in the top 2 inches of moist soil. If the soil is dry, that will break the cycle.
  • As your annuals fade, pull them out roots and all. It’s easier to remove them before the frost makes them mushy.
  • In general the amount of fall clean up you do is up to you. Some feel total clean-up is best including raking fallen leaves off beds. I tend to leave a lot in place including fallen leaves. It provides winter protection and a home for beneficial insects and larva, especially during winters when we haven’t had a solid snow cover. You do, however, have to rake off the leaves in spring before perennials start growing.

Happy Gardening!

Lyn Chimera