What to do in your garden in October
Beneficial blooms. These perennials and shrubs bear flowersthat attract beneficial insects: autumn sage (Salvia greggii), coreopsis, fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Lantana montevidensis, rue (Ruta graveolens), tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), wild buckwheat (Eriogonum), and yarrow. The beneficial bugs pollinateplants and help control pest insects.
Cool-season color. Sunset climate zones 1a-3b: For winter color, set outtransplants of chrysanthemums, dianthus, ornamental kale, andpoppies. For spring bloom, sow seeds of baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata), larkspur, snapdragons, and sweetalyssum. Zones 10-13: Set out transplants of calendula, dianthus,Iceland poppies, snapdragons, and stock. For spring color, sowAfrican daisies, California and Shirley poppies, golden columbine,and owl’s clover.
Cool-season herbs. Zones 10-13: Set out transplants ofchamomile, chives, and salad burnet. Sow seeds of cilantro, dill,and parsley every two weeks for continuous harvest.
Fall color. Zones 1a-3b: Drought-tolerant choices forreliable autumn color include shrubs like dwarf coralberry (Symphoricarpos x chenaultii ‘Hancock’), European cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus), and staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina); and trees like Ginkgo biloba, ornamental pear (Pyrus calleryana), and redtwig dogwood (Cornus stolonifera). Zones 10-13: Consider shrubs likepyracantha and trees such as Chinese flame tree (Koelreuteria bipinnata), crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), and honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos).
Garlic. Separate “mother” bulbs into cloves; plant clovesindividually, pointed end up. Two good sources for both hardneckand softneck garlic are Garden City Seeds (www.irish-eyes.com or877/733-3001) and Territorial Seed Company (www.territorialseed.comor 541/942-9547).
Permanent plants. All kinds of hardy groundcovers,perennials, shrubs, and vines can go into the ground now.
Pine tree alternatives. Due to the ongoing severe droughtand vulnerability to bark beetle infestation, pines are notcurrently viable choices as landscape plants. Some alternatives: Inzones 1a-3b, try mountain alder (Alnus tenuifolia), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), or sugar maple (Acer saccharum); in zones 10 and 11, consider floweringcrabapple (Malus), green hawthorn (Crataegus viridis), and lilac (Syringa vulgaris).
Strawberries. In well-drained, organically enriched soil,set out plants anytime after midmonth for a crop next spring orearly summer. When planting, take care to keep crowns above thesoil level; mulch generously around plants. In zones 1a-3b, try’Fort Laramie’ or ‘Ozark Beauty’. In zones 10-13, plant ‘Chandler’,’Sequoia’, or ‘Tristar’ in areas that get afternoon shade.
Vegetables. Zones 10-13: Sow seeds of beets, bok choy,carrots, fennel, kohlrabi, lettuce (and other salad greens likearugula), peas, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips. Setout transplants of artichokes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage,cauliflower, kale, and shallots. Plant garlic cloves and onionsets.
Wildflowers. Zones 10-13: In a sunny site, lightly rake thesoil, scatter seeds, then cover with a thin layer of organic mulch;keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout.