What to do in your garden in October

Temperatures in the valley leave the three-digit range, for the most part this month. October is one of the best months to work in the garden.

Plants are perking up as we hit the most important planting season of the year, which reaches a peak by Oct. 15. By then winter and spring annual color such as petunias, snapdragons and pansies should be in the soil.

Things to consider:

  • It’s still not the time to plant everything. Cold-tender tropical and subtropical plants such as citrus do best planted in the spring. But container plantings of cold-tender plants are fine, as long as you can move them to protected areas when frost threatens.
  • Nurseries offer bountiful fresh plants in containers, flats, small pots and 4-inch pots. Inspect plants carefully, especially the roots. If roots go round and round at the bottom of the container, the plant has been in the container too long. Well-rooted seedlings adjust readily to transplanting now.
  • Pre-moisten soil before you plant.
  • Water plants in gently after planting and continue to water as they begin to be established.
  • Avoid excessive water. Dig down into the soil with a trowel to 6 inches to make sure water penetration is adequate.
  • First half of the month is a good time to plant cool-season, leafy vegetables. Cooler soil in the second half of the month will cause plants to mature more slowly.
  • The best wildflower seeding period is from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15. Pre-moisten soil before sowing seeds.
  • There’s still time to plant most trees and shrubs, including desert trees, shrubs and hardy cacti.

Sources: Lush and Efficient: Desert-Friendly Landscaping in the Coachella Valley, by CVWD, The Desert Gardener’s Calendar by George Brookbank

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