Monday, October 10, 2016

October Gardening Tips

Goldenrain Tree
October is in full swing and fall garden festivals are abundant this month. The leaves of deciduous trees like American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) are just beginning to turn to a golden hue. The papery fruit on Goldenrain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) are beginning to turn a reddish-orange against the panicles of yellow flowers. A beautiful sign of autumn in Florida!

    Here are some tips and reminders to keep your garden and landscape in order this month:
    • Adjust irrigation time clocks to water no more than once per week during the fall. 
    • Check irrigation and correct any problems.
    • Refresh mulched areas to maintain a layer 2 to 3 inches thick.
    • Maintain a mulched area around trees to at least the dripline or beyond. Remember to pull mulch away from the base of the trunk.
    • Consider converting turfgrass areas into drought-tolerant groundcovers for lower maintenance.
    • Choose drought-tolerant plants for the landscape.
    • Winter annual weeds in the lawn can be controlled using preemergence herbicides in late October once nighttime temperatures are consistently 55-60°F. For more information on how to use preemergence herbicides to control annual weeds in the lawn check out the Weed Management Guide for Florida Lawns:
    • Keep a record of what species of weeds appear in your lawn and when. This will allow you to properly treat them next year, if needed.
    • Only fertilize ornamental shrubs and trees that are underperforming due to nutrient deficiencies. Use a controlled-release fertilizer for a consistent, slow-release of nutrients over time. Always follow the label for directions and rate and do not apply before a heavy rain.
    • Do not use “weed and feed” products.
    • Fall and winter are the best times to control twig girdlers (Oncideres cingulata). Prevent future populations by collecting and disposing of fallen branches. For more information check out Twig Girdlers:
    • Winter vegetables including kale, lettuce, and broccoli, just to name a few, can now be planted. For planting dates and varieties check out the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide:
    • Now is a great time to start or replenish your herb garden. Some herbs to consider are basil, cilantro, garlic, parsley, and sage. For more information check out Herbs in the Florida Garden:
    • Cool season annuals that can now be planted include alyssum, calibrachoa, dianthus, dusty miller, petunia, snapdragon, and viola. For more information check out Gardening with Annuals:

    *This information was adapted from the Central Florida Gardening Calendar- ENH1189 by Sydney Park Brown: and UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Fact Sheet: Month-by-Month Irrigation Checklist by Anne Yasalonis:

      To keep your landscape looking beautiful, use less water, and reduce stormwater runoff 
      remember to incorporate the Nine Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™:
      1. Right plant, right place
      2. Water efficiently
      3. Fertilize appropriately
      4. Mulch
      5. Attract wildlife
      6. Manage yard pests responsibly
      7. Recycle
      8. Reduce stormwater runoff
      9. Protect the waterfront

      For more information on Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ visit:

      Contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at 863-519-1041 or