Coastal Region – Laura Lee Rose
October is a wonderful gardening month in the Lowcountry. As the days get shorter and cooler, the garden centers begin to fill with favorite annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs, and trees. “Fall is for planting.”
- Spring blooming perennials and most woodies are best installed now. This allows the roots to grow and spread through the winter months.
- Spring and summer blooming perennials can be divided now: transplant or share the divisions.
- Do not fertilize lawns or shrubs in the fall. That can cause a flush of growth that may not have a chance to harden off before cold or freezing weather. Because pruning can also stimulate growth on trees and shrubs, leave that chore until late winter. However, it is always correct to prune damaged or diseased branches.
- Plant winter annuals, such as snapdragons, pansies, calendulas, stock, and dianthus. These should be fertilized at planting and about 3-4 weeks later with a balanced fertilizer in containers or as recommended by a soil test. Sow sweet peas, larkspur, and poppies where you want them in the garden. Spring flowering bulbs can be planted: Narcissus, iris, anemones, lilies, and try some new ones too.
- In the vegetable garden, plant garlic, onions, rutabagas, turnips, and spinach. Keep up with watering if it is a dry fall.
- Mulch tender perennials and refresh mulch in beds.
- If you plan to collect seeds and dried grasses for flower arrangements, leave some for the birds.
Midlands/PeeDee Region – Carmen Ketron
October is a great month to decorate porches and yards with seasonal plants and pumpkins. Learn how to select the best mums and pumpkins for a beautiful fall display. Flowering plants in containers tend to dry out on sunny October days. Keep your container plants well-watered to encourage the best blooms. Don’t be afraid to remove any fading blooms, known as deadheading, to allow for a second flush of flowers.
When you are done with your pumpkin decor, have a plan in place to recycle them instead of going right in the trash. Rotten pumpkins can be composted in a home compost but watch out for volunteer pumpkin plants next year. You may be able to feed the pumpkins and gourds to neighboring livestock or preserve the pumpkins for yourself.
Keep an eye out for winter annual weeds popping up in lawns. Plants such as chickweed, henbit, and annual bluegrass can become a problem. Luckily, there are many preventative steps to take, including adjusting your irrigation, mowing height, and applying fall pre-emergent herbicides to stay on top of those weeds.
Now is the time to purchase your spring flowering bulbs. To get the best selection, buy them now and wait until winter to plant them. In the Midlands, you won’t plant most bulbs until November or December. Make sure to provide the correct chilling period in the refrigerator if necessary.
October is also the time to begin planting garlic and onions. Plant your garlic and onion seeds, sets, and plants now for a delicious bounty next year.
Upstate Region – Mary Vargo
Soil testing is essential, and there’s no better time to do it than in the fall before planning on growing new things in the next season.
Deciduous trees and shrubs will soon start to shed their leaves! Consider chopping up the leaves with your lawnmower and gathering them for composting.
Give your vegetable and ornamental garden beds a good clean-up by removing dead and diseased foliage; this way, you can avoid harboring any harmful overwintering diseases on disease-susceptible plant foliage such as tomatoes.
Fall is the perfect time to add perennials to your landscape; see Growing Perennials for an extensive list of perennials categorized by specific landscape conditions.
Divide some of your perennials this fall, spread them in other locations in your landscape, or share them with your friends. See Dividing Perennials for how and when to divide certain plants.
Plant hardy annuals and biennial plants that will continue to brighten your landscape throughout the colder winter months ahead. See Growing Annuals for lists of biennial flowers and hardy annual flowers to plant this fall.
Harvest fresh leaves from your herbs and plan to use them in the winter by drying and storing them.
Save seed from some of your favorite performing heirloom garden vegetables or flowers to use again next year.
Think ahead! Start building your wish list for next year by researching interesting plants you might want to try and grow for next spring. Check with your local nurseries to see when they get new items in so you can stay ahead of the game and ensure you get the plants you want by ordering ahead of time while inventory is still available. Things go fast, so plan now for success!
Don’t procrastinate on planting those spring-blooming bulbs! Get the ones you want now and plant them in October to enjoy cheery spring blooms you can enjoy when not much else is flowering.
Be sure to check for girdling roots on plants grown in containers before planting this fall. Tease the roots to spread outward and knock off as much of the growing media as possible before planting in the hole and backfilling with soil.