October is the season to plant spring-blooming bulbs, wildflowers, and many standard gardening favorites. The flowers that don't blossom this winter can spend the cold season in the ground, strengthening their root systems in preparation for a springtime bloom.
For starters, spring-blooming bulbs should be planted in fall. Trust us: You'll be glad you planned ahead when you see them pop up after a long, dark winter! Get them in the ground any time before the ground freezes, which is from October to mid-December, depending on where you live.
Leafy greens and Brassicas: Lettuces, spinach, and Swiss chard can be planted from seed or from transplant this month. Plant members of the Brassica family, including broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, and cauliflower, from transplant. Kale can also be planted from seed in October.
Plants like chrysanthemums, nasturtiums and asters are wonderful choices for seasonal planting arrangements. While perennials that will survive the winter are great choices, autumn is also a great time to explore new ideas will short-season annuals too.
Although each plant's needs may vary and some will be more winter-hardy than others, in general about a month before the last fall frost is sufficient in giving the plant enough time to establish itself and take root.
Mid- to late-August is often an excellent time to plant fall flowers, as long as the weather isn't still so hot that the plants will suffer heat stress. But don't wait too late to plant, or you'll have a very short window to enjoy your flowers. Check the growing requirements for each plant.
Mid-August to mid-October is an ideal time of year to plant new trees, though, that time frame can be stretched into November and December. To be 100% sure, measure soil temperature early in the morning for a few, consecutive days. If your soil is consistently 50° F or higher, you're good to plant.
When it's October, people often wonder if it is too late to plant new seed. The good news is if you hurry, seed can still be planted in October with the hope that it will survive the upcoming winter.
Grow an Edible Garden With Fall Vegetables
For a cool-weather vegetable harvest, plant lettuce, collards, carrots, Brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli, radish, and more. The general rule of thumb is to plant fall vegetables from seed 90 days before the first frost.
Pansies and Violas
Fall is the good time to plant pansies and their smaller cousins violas because the still-warm soil temperatures give their roots time to grow enough to survive the winter.
Think about ways to add color and draw beneficial insects to your fall gardens. Consider planting nasturtiums, marigolds, asters, cosmos, mums, and anemones. Plan out your fall pots and planters. Summer blooms are fading, but there are many opportunities to add color and visual interest to your landscape.
Gardening in the fall provides a longer period with more 'good' days, as compared to the often tumultuous spring season. Plus, if you plant in fall you'll end up ahead of the game and won't have to rush to get everything done after winter. In fact, a good strategy is to plant perennials when you plant your fall bulbs.
It's time for planting fall color, such as mums and asters, as well as sprucing up planter boxes. You also may be surprised to learn that it's the best time of year to plant perennials and shrubs (trees, too!) while plants still have an opportunity to establish their root systems before the ground freezes.
While you can plant a late planting to the first frost date, it's always best to allow as much growing time as possible. If you missed the spring planting, then calculate which vegetables you can grow now and still have a harvest before the first frost.
To support plants through this season of transition, make sure they get adequate water until the ground freezes. This is especially important if the summer season has been hot and dry, and for newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials. In fall, plants do not need as much water as they may have needed in summer.
In general, aim to finish your fall planting about 6 weeks before your first expected frost date (8 weeks for evergreens). In Zones 3 and 4, you would count back from the latter half of September.
Did you know even as late as November there are all sorts of fall vegetables that you can be planting right now? While most people are putting away their gardening tools, there really is no end to the gardening season especially in Southern California.
That's right, even when the temperatures fall below freezing and a thick blanket of snow covers the ground, some flowers can grow tall. Many perennials, annuals, and shrubs actually bloom during the coldest months of the year.
"Fall is an excellent time to plant almost any perennial, with the exception of many ornamental grasses, which are better planted in spring," says Erin Schanen, Troy-Bilt's gardening partner, a master gardener volunteer and creator of The Impatient Gardener blog and YouTube channel.
Don't stick your plants in the ground mere days before the first expected frost. Your roses won't have time to get settled in and become established before the harsh winter weather hits. The right time to plant is about six weeks before the first predicted frost date in the fall.
Planting. Most perennials should be planted in the fall or early spring. Fall planting gives the plant more time to become established before the start of active growth in the spring. Fall-planted perennials are usually well-established before hot weather.