What to do Now

garden spring cleaning October Gardening Tips

Houseplants and Tropicals:

It is time to bring your tender houseplants inside. Make sure to treat them for insects and spider mites before bringing inside. Espoma Earth-tone Insect Control is very effective. Spray the upper and lower leaf surface and small twigs twice 10 days apart you may make your second application inside.

Summer tropical bulbs and tubers like cannas, bananas and dahlias can cut back and moved inside after the first frost. Wash them well and allow them to dry for several days before you pack them up for winter storage.

Fall and winter blooming orchids should be producing flower spikes now. Use a bamboo stake and clips or twine to train the spike to grow straight.

Lawn Care:

Continue with fall lawn renovation, over-seeding, and fertilizing. You should complete these tasks by the third week of October. This allows the seed to germinate and root before the leaves fall.

Apply lime and Milky Spore now.


After harvest the vegetable garden should be cleaned up and the soil turned or tilled. If you are creating a new vegetable bed fall is a great time. The soil you turn over will be much easier to work next spring due to freeze thaw cycles. This also has a more positive impact on soil beneficial fungi and bacteria.

Remember to rotate your crops next year to minimize pest problems you may have had this summer.

Annuals and Perennials:

Plant pansies now and enjoy them through next spring. Treat them with repellants if deer and rabbits are a concern and remember to fertilize.

Ornamental cabbage and kale can be planted later this month as well.

It’s time to plant most bulbs delay tulip planting until November. Use oyster shells or Espoma Soil- Perfector added to the planting hole to keep rodents away.

Cut back perennials as the foliage withers. Ornamental grasses can be cut back later in winter.

Trees and Shrubs:

If deer are a concern in your area now is the time to protect young trees from rutting bucks. Bucks mark their territory by rubbing their scent glands on trees and in doing so their antlers severely damage the trunks and can ruin trees. Use three hardwood stakes placed close to the trunk as a barricade. The stakes can be removed in January.

Many evergreen plants loose a portion of their older leaves or needles this time of year so don’t be alarmed. Azaleas, Japanese hollies, rhododendrons, false cypress, pines and euonymus are the most noticeable. Just late nature takes its course.

It is time to fertilize your trees and shrubs with an organic fertilizer. This will stimulate root growth and give the plant better winter hardiness.

Continue to water regularly if it’s dry until the trees lose their leaves.

Delay fall mulching of beds until we have had a few nights of freezing temperatures. Mulching earlier keeps the soil too warm and plants may not harden off well.

Delay significant pruning of trees and shrubs until late winter.