Monday, October 3, 2011

October in the Garden

Fall color is showing up in the form of Sedums, Anemones, Buddleias, Hydrangeas, Roses and Many Ornamental Grasses. We can thank the recent rain for this colorful rebound, but it has also caused some havoc as well; causing powdery mildew, leaf spot and various other fungal problems. Often the best control is a thorough raking and cleaning up of leaves to reduce the spread. Other garden chores for October:
Clean, repot and bring in your houseplants. Keep an eye out for freezing temperatures, but I leave my Christmas cactus out as long as possible to try to get it to bloom at Christmas (rather than Thanksgiving). The Christmas Cactus needs 12 to 14 hours of dark each day to trigger the set of blooms, and there is some evidence to show that bright outdoor lights may upset this process so be sure your plants are shaded from artificial light to ensure good bud set.
Spring Flowering Bulbs, if you haven’t made your selections yet, there are lots of good deals and places to get bulbs.  The key to selecting healthy bulbs is to pick ones that have weight to them.  Pick your bulbs as you would an onion or clove of garlic – meaty, not mushy or dry.  And remember to augment your selection of Daffodils, Crocus and Tulips with other beauties.  For easy April blooms try: Chionodoxa, Scilla and Muscari.  For May to June blooms try: Alliums, Hyacinthoides, Leucojum and Eremurus.
And if you buy more bulbs than you can finish planting, remember to store them in a cold (not freezing!), dry location for the winter, like an unheated basement or garage.  Then in the early spring you can pot them up and force them for indoor bloom.
Start your Amaryllis bulbs for Holiday blooms, many species of Amaryllis take 8 weeks or so to bloom. When potting up Amaryllis, remember to keep the top 1/3 if the bulb above the soil. If you brought your bulbs indoors in August, it is best to repot the bulbs with new soil.
October is still a great time to plant trees and shrubs, the ground typically wont freeze until mid December so plants should have several weeks of root growth before going completely dormant.
Lawns are bouncing back from the heat and lack of rain this summer, an application of fertilizer now will help your existing lawn grass to rebuild its stores before the onset of winter. It is still mild enough to seed bare spots in your lawn, especially now that the crabgrass is dying back. Keep mowing your lawn until it stops growing, which can be well into November. Rake leaves early and often before they get matted and moldy, this can save a lot of lawn related headaches.