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Monthly Garden Tips

January

Flowers

  • Refrigerated bulbs such as tulip, daffodil and hyacinth should be planted in prepared beds.
  • Start seeds of warm season flowers late this month in order to have transplants in March. 
  • There’s still time to transplant some cool season annuals such as carnations, foxglove, pansies, petunias and snapdragons.
  • Re-fertilize cool season flowerbeds, using a liquid or dry form of fertilizer.  Be careful not to apply excessive amounts and keep granules away from the base of stems
  • Finish dividing crowded perennials.  Don’t wait until spring for this job
  • Plant bare root roses immediately after they are purchase

 Trees and Shrubs

  • Plant trees and shrubs. This is an ideal time of year for transplanting larger specimens.
  • Plant bare root plants such as deciduous ornamental shrubs and trees.
  • Prune dormant shade trees, if needed.
  • Stick hardwood cuttings of fig, grape, honeysuckle, Althea, Catalpa, Forsythia and Wisteria.

Fruits and Nuts

  • Apply dormant oil spray to peach, plum, nectarine and other deciduous fruit trees.  This practice is necessary when growing the stone fruits in locations along the Gulf Coast. Note: This applies to the flowering peaches and cherries since they are susceptible to the same pests as their fruiting cousins.
  • Plant bare root deciduous fruit trees
  • Prune dormant fruit trees if needed

Vegetable Garden

  • Start seeds of warm season vegetables late this month in order to have transplants in March. 
  • Lime (if needed), and begin preparing vegetable gardens for the spring planting.
  • Cool season vegetables that can still be planted in the garden are:  beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, leek, mustard, bunching onions, parsley, English peas, Irish potatoes, radishes and turnips. 
  • Irish potatoes can be started from January through March by planting seed pieces 3 to 4 inches deep in rows.  Always purchase certified seed potatoes.

Lawns

  • Check soil moisture during winter and water as needed.

February

Flowers

  • Re-fertilize cool season flowerbeds, using a liquid or granular form of fertilizer.  Be careful not to apply excessive amounts and keep granules away from the base of stems.
  • Prepare flowerbeds for spring planting by adding and incorporating soil amendments like mushroom compost, manure or homemade compost.  Till or spade the bed to incorporate the amendments with the existing soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Allow the prepared bed to lie undisturbed for 3 to 4 weeks before planting.  This provides time for some important biological activity to take place, and new plants are less likely to suffer from stem and root rots as a result.  Have a soil test done. Sometimes lime is needed.  However, a lime application should be made only if the need is revealed by the test.
  • Replenish mulch in flowerbeds.
  • Prune rose bushes. 

Trees and Shrubs

  • February is possible the best month for rejuvenation of old, overgrown shrubs.  When pruned now, plants have an entire growing season to recover. 
  • Prune summer flowering deciduous shrubs such as Althea and Hibiscus.  Since they flower on current season’s growth, flowering can actually be enhanced by proper pruning
  • Do NOT prune the spring flowering shrubs yet.  Azaleas, Spiraeas and Forsythia flower during early spring because buds were formed last summer and fall.  Pruning in February would therefore remove most of the flower buds.
  • Cold damaged trees and shrubs should NOT be pruned until new growth appears.  You want to preserve as much healthy plant material as possible.
  • Replenish mulch in shrub beds
  • Finish planting ornamental and fruit trees.

Fruits and Nuts

  • Fertilize established pecan trees.  Use a “special pecan fertilizer” that contains zinc.  Use 2 lbs. for every year of age of the tree up to a maximum of 55 lbs.  Broadcast the fertilizer evenly beneath the tree.
  • Fertilize established peach, plum, pear, persimmon, apple and fig.  Apply about 1 ½ lbs of a 10-10-10 (or similar) fertilizer for each year of age of the tree until a maximum of 10 to 15 lbs. per tree is reached.
  • Blueberries are very sensitive to nitrogen and can be killed easily, particularly when they are young.  Fertilize only if your goal is to increase yield or berry size. An annual application of 2 ounces of a special “azalea/camellia” or “special blueberry” type fertilizer per plant in February is ample fertilizer on 2-year-old plants.
  • Prune muscadine grapes between mid-February to mid-March.  A standard method is to allow 2 to 4 node spurs spaced every 6 inches of cordon.  You may notice that pruning cuts bleed, but there is no evidence that this is injurious to the vine.
  • Grapes (bunch and muscadine) should be fertilized at the rate of 1 ½ lbs of 10-10-10 for each year of age with a maximum of 5 lbs per plant applied in late February.
  • Last call for planting fruit trees!  Most fruit trees such as pecans, plums, persimmons, figs, peaches and nectarines are shipped bare roots and should be planted during the dormant season.
  • Apply a spray containing horticultural oils emulsion to dormant fruit trees and ornamental shrubs.  Follow label directions carefully.

Vegetable Garden

  • Several winter vegetables can still be successfully grown by starting them this month.  Plant beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, collards, endive/escarole, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, parsley, English peas, radish and turnips. 
  • Plant Irish potatoes.  Purchase certified seed potatoes rather than using the grocery store kinds.  Use 2-ounce seed pieces with eyes and plant them 3 to 4 inches deep.
  • Prepare spring vegetable and herb beds for planting by adding and incorporating soil amendments like mushroom compost, manure or homemade compost.  Wait 3 to 4 weeks before planting.

Lawns

  • Hold off on fertilizing the lawn.  It is still too early for an application of nitrogen containing product.  Cold temperatures and lack of plant response would likely result in wasted fertilizer.  However, your winter weeds would benefit greatly. Add Item Here…

March

Flowers

  • Annual flowers that can be planted in March include:  ageratum, alyssum, amaranthus, asters, baby’s breath, begonia, calendula, celosia, cosmos, dahlia, dusty miller, gaillardia, geranium, hollyhock, impatiens, marigold, nicotiana, ornamental pepper, pentas, phlox, rudbeckia, salvia, sweet Williams, torenia, verbena, vinca and zinnia.
  • Caladium bulbs are extremely sensitive to cold soil.  There is no advantage to planting early.  Purchase caladiums while there is a good selection, but wait until late March or April before planting them in shady beds.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Finish pruning summer flowering shrubs such as althea, hibiscus, abelia, oakleaf hydrangea and oleander.
  • Delay the pruning of azaleas, camellias, spiraeas, gardenias and other spring flowering shrubs until after flowering is complete.
  • Prune any cold weather-damaged plants after new growth appears.
  • If needed, fertilize shrubs and small trees  with a slow release fertilizer.  A good general-purpose landscape fertilizer is a 15-0-15.
  • Mature palms should receive an application of granular fertilizer. Use a special palm fertilizer that has an 8-2-12 +4Mg (magnesium) with micronutrients formulation.  Apply one pound of fertilizer per 100 sqft of canopy area or landscape area.
  • Last opportunity to spray shrubs with dormant horticultural oil.  
  • Pick up all fallen camellia blossoms and remove them from your property.  This practice helps to prevent petal blight next season.
  • Prune ornamental grasses.
  • If you are in the market for specific colors of azaleas, visit the local nurseries and garden centers this month.  Though this is not the most ideal planting time you are assured of the right flower color without having to wait until next blooming season.

Fruits and Nuts

  • Time to finish planting bare-root fruit trees.

Vegetable Garden

  • This is the month for establishing a spring vegetable garden.  Early March plantings have about an even chance of avoiding a late frost.
  • The warm season vegetables that can be planted this month are: bush beans, pole beans, lima beans, cantaloupes, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, southern peas, peppers, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, summer squash, winter squash, tomatoes and watermelon.
  • The cool season vegetables that can be planted this month are: beets, carrots, celery, collards, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, bunching onions, parsley, English peas, Irish potatoes, radish and turnips.
  • More conservative gardeners might wish to wait until the middle to latter part of the month to risk tender plants such as tomatoes and peppers.

Lawns

  • Remove excessive accumulation of leaves from the lawn.  This will increase the effectiveness of fertilizers and pesticides applied to the lawn.
  • If a preemergence lawn herbicide is needed to control summer  weeds, it should be applied in early March.  Make certain to choose one that is safe on your kind of grass.
  • Keep lawn herbicides away from the root zones of desirable flower, shrubs and other plants.
  • Fertilize the lawn only after the danger of frost has passed and when the grass has greened up.  Fertilize using a complete fertilizer applied at 0.5 lbs nitrogen per 1000 sqft containing 50% soluble and 50% slow-release nitrogen.
  • Service the lawn mower: include a sharpening of the blade and adjusting of the cutting height for your type of grass.
  • Anyone considering establishment of centipedegrass from seed should hold off until the soil warms up and stabilizes above 70°F. Add Item Here…

April

Flowers

  • Begin watching roses for black spot fungus disease (small black spots on the leaves that quickly worsen).  Control it by spraying every seven to ten days with a fungicide.
  • Annuals to plant include celosia, coleus, dusty miller, gaillardia, geranium, hollyhock, impatiens, marigold, nicotiana, ornamental pepper, penta, phlox, portulaca, rudbeckia, salvia, sweet William, torenia, verbena, vinca and zinnia.

 Trees and Shrubs

  • Fertilize shrub beds, if necessary.  A landscape/garden type fertilizer that is low in phosphorus (the middle number) can be used on most species of shrubs.  Keep lawn “weed and feed” type products out of shrub and flowerbeds.  Some contain chemicals that are dangerous to woody and herbaceous ornamentals.
  • The “acid loving” shrubs such as azaleas, camellias and gardenias should be fertilized with an “azalea-camellia special.”  The nitrogen source in these fertilizers is safer on these ornamentals.
  • Evergreen and semi-evergreen trees such as live oak and laurel oak shed most of their leaves during March and early April.  Make plans to recycle these leaves on your property by composting or using them as mulch in vegetable, flower and shrub beds. 

Vegetable Garden

  • Vegetables that can be planted outdoors include bush beans, pole beans, cantaloupe, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, lima beans, okra, southern peas, peppers, pumpkin, summer squash, tomatoes, and watermelon.
  • Plan and plant an herb garden.  They can be grown under the same conditions and cultural practices that are used for vegetables.
  • Sweet potato plants (slips, draws) can be set out from now through June.

 Lawns

  • Remove fallen leaves from the lawn before the first mowing.  Remove excessive leaf cover from the lawn by raking, blowing or bagging.
  • Recycle grass clippings by not catching them when the lawn is mowed.  Removing the clippings carries off fertilizer that has been applied to the lawn.
  • Service the lawn mower, which includes sharpening the blade and setting the correct cutting height for your kind of grass. 
  • Make a spring fertilizer application.  Use a slow release nitrogen product with a 3-1-3 ratio (like a 15-5-15) or a 1:0:1 ratio such as a 15-0-15.
  • Centipede is especially sensitive to excessive amounts of nitrogen.  Lawns of this grass “crash” after two or three years of heavy fertilization.  High soil nitrogen is believed to contribute to centipede decline – a major problem in our area.
  • Spring dead spots may be present.  Before treating these areas, get a diagnosis.  Treat, if necessary, and then patch these areas before weeds invade the bare spots.  Sodding, plugging or sprigging helps them to fill in quicker.

May

Flowers

  • Annuals to plant include celosia, coleus, crossandra, gaillardia, geranium, hollyhock, impatiens, kalanchoe, marigold, nicotiana, ornamental pepper, penta, phlox, portulaca, salvia, torenia, verbena, vinca and zinnia.
  • Fertilize annual and perennial flowerbeds. Choose a product that contains nitrogen and potassium, but little or no phosphorus for this purpose.
  • Rejuvenate houseplants.  Take them outdoors and inspect for spider mites and mealy bugs.  Shift pot bound specimens to a size larger pot.
  • Set out caladium bulbs in prepared beds.  Plant them 18 inches apart and 2 inches deep.
  • Control black spot on roses by applying fungicides on a regular basis.
  • Sow sunflower seeds.  Sunflowers are easy to grow in a sunny spot.  Look for newer, dwarf varieties.

 Trees and Shrubs

  • Finish pruning spring flowering shrubs such as azaleas, spiraeas, camellias and forsythia.
  • Water newly planted shrubs and trees frequently until they are well established.  Smaller shrubs require about three months of special care while new roots are becoming established, while large shrubs and trees require six months to a year.
  • Watch for pests on ornamentals and control as necessary.  Watch for spider mites on Japanese hollies, lacebugs on azaleas and pyracantha, scales on camellias and hollies and whiteflies on ligustrum and gardenias.

 Fruits and Nuts

  • Fertilize citrus with a special “citrus fertilizer”.  Be sure it contains about 1.6% magnesium, about 0.5% manganese and small amounts of copper and boron.

 Vegetable Garden

  • Vegetables that can be planted outdoors include eggplant, lima beans, okra, southern peas, and sweet potatoes.
  • On sandy sites, vegetables will require several light, supplemental applications of fertilizer during the season.  Choose a product that contains nitrogen and potassium, but little or no phosphorus for this purpose.
  • Check for the following pests and control them if necessary: Watch for tomato fruitworm, stinkbugs on vegetables and aphids on all new growth

 Lawns

  • Calibrate the lawn sprinkler system so that approximately ½ inch of water is applied at each irrigation.  Contact your local Extension Service for specific instructions.
  • Water lawns in the morning to help prevent disease problems.
  • Check for lawn pests and control them if necessary: Watch for spittlebugs in centipedegrass, chinch bugs in St. Augustine and sod webworm in all turf.

June

Flowers

  • Annuals to plant include celosia, coleus, crossandra, hollyhock, impatiens, kalanchoe, nicotiana, ornamental pepper, portulaca, salvia, torenia, vinca and zinnia.
  • Sow seeds of sunflowers.  They are easy to grow if you have a sunny spot.  Look for some of the new, dwarf varieties that can also be used as cut flowers.
  • Remove old blooms (deadheading) to make flowers bloom longer.
  • Allow the foliage on spring bulbs to grow.  Do not cut it off until it turns yellow and falls over.

 Trees and Shrubs

  • Mature palms should receive an application of granular fertilizer. Use a special palm fertilizer that has an 8-2-12 +4Mg (magnesium) with micronutrients formulation.  Apply one pound of fertilizer per 100 sqft of canopy area or landscape area.
  • Do any necessary pruning of junipers this month.
  • Finish pruning the spring flowering shrubs such as azaleas, camellias, spiraeas, wisteria and forsythia by early June.
  • This is the month to reproduce plants by budding. 
  • Check mulch around ornamental plants to be sure it’s two inches thick. Add mulch as needed to help keep weeds down and conserve water.  Keep mulch one to two inches away from trunk or stem.
  • Inspect maple trees, especially silver maple for infestations of maple soft scale.  Look for a white substance with some black on one end.  Individual maple scales are about 1/4 inch in diameter and resemble bird droppings.  They occur mostly on leaves and can cause defoliation unless controlled.
  • Inspect the undersides of azalea leaves for spider mites and lace bugs.  If dry weather conditions exist, these insects can do some serious damage if not controlled.
  • Check conifers for signs of bagworms.  Call your local Extension Service for control measures.

Fruits and Nuts

  • Harvest peaches, nectarines and plums as soon as they mature, before the squirrels and birds get to them 

Vegetable Garden

  • Sidedress vegetable gardens with fertilizer containing nitrogen and potassium.  A fertilizer such as a 15-0-15 can be used. Use approximately 2-3 cupfuls (1 to 1 ½ pounds) per 100 feet of row. 
  • Increase watering frequency and amount as tomatoes load up with fruit.
  • Vegetables that can be planted outdoors include eggplant, lima beans, okra, southern peas, peppers and sweet potatoes.
  • Sweet potatoes are started from plants or “draws”.  Be sure to purchase only certified weevil free sweet potato plants.
  • Check for the following pests and control them if necessary: tomato fruitworm, stinkbugs on vegetables and aphids on all new growth

 Lawns

  • Check for the lawn pests and control them if necessary:  Spittlebugs in centipedegrass.  They are more attracted to especially lush areas of the yard such as along septic drain fields and in areas where excessive nitrogen fertilizer has been used.   Chinch bugs in St. Augustinegrass Sod webworm in all turf
  • Start monitoring for mole cricket infestations and prepare for treatment.

July

Flowers

  • Annuals to plant include celosia, coleus, crossandra, impatiens, kalanchoe, nicotiana, ornamental pepper, portulaca, salvia, and vinca.
  • Lightly re-fertilize flowering annual and perennial beds in order to retain their vigor and keep them colorful.
  • Remove old flowers (deadhead).
  • Keep leggy growth pinched back.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Remove spent flower heads from crape myrtles so that they will continue to bloom.
  • Watch for, and control pests if necessary. Spider mites on shrubs and flowers. Lacebugs on azaleas and pyracantha. Flower thrips on roses, gardenias and other blooming plants. Oleander caterpillars on oleanders
  • Do any necessary pruning of hydrangeas as soon as flowering is finished.  They must have sufficient time to re-grow before the dormant season.
  • Do not heavily prune any of the spring flowering shrubs such as azaleas, camellias or spiraea.

 Fruits and Nuts

  • Prune blueberry bushes, if needed, as soon as possible after harvest is completed.   

Vegetable Garden

  • Vegetables that can be planted outdoors include eggplant, lima beans, okra, southern peas, peppers and watermelon.
  • Set out new tomato plants by late July in order to have a fall crop.  Purchase tomato transplants or root disease free suckers from the spring crop.  If possible, obtain one of the “hot set” varieties.
  • Watch for and control tomato hornworm and fruitworms
  • Remove old tomato plants from the garden once harvesting is complete.  Diseased plants should be burned or removed from your property.  Do not place known diseased plant parts in the compost pile.
  • Establish a compost pile.  The high temperatures and frequent showers of summer help to speed up the breakdown process. 

Lawns

  • Watch for, and control pests if necessary.  Sod webworm in lawns, chinch bugs in St. Augustine lawns and spittlebug in centipede
  • Keep lawn mower blades sharp.  This reduces some disease problems and gives the lawn a neater look when it is cut.
  • Phyllanthus (common name chamberbitter or gripeweed), often described as that little “mimosa looking weed”, began germinating in May.  Check the lawn and landscape for its presence.   Contact your local Extension service if you need help with recommended control measures.
  • Time for mole cricket control.  Use the soap flush technique to determine if sufficient crickets are present to warrant treatment. 
  • Lawns will begin experiencing more stress as temperatures rise this summer.  Raise the mowing height one-half inch as hot weather approaches.  This helps relieve some stress and enables the grass better tolerate summer conditions.

August

Flowers

  • Annuals to plant include coleus and salvia.
  • Pinch or deadhead and re-fertilize flowering annual beds in order to keep them productive.
  • Check flowering plants weekly in order to head off insect or disease problems.
  • Prepare perennial beds for planting next month.  September is one of the best times to establish perennials in our area, especially those that are started from divisions such as liriope, mondo and daylilies
  • Do all that you can to increase air circulation between plants so that the foliage and stems can dry off between rain showers to decrease the possibility of fungal diseases such as leaf and stem blights. 

Trees and Shrubs

  • Watch for azalea defoliator caterpillars on azaleas.  These are the large, black caterpillars that can strip foliage and weaken plants very quickly.   Control them by hand picking or with an approved insecticide.
  • Check shrubs weekly in order to head off insect or disease problems.
  • White webbing that covers the branches and trunks of trees is from a group of insects called the psocids (tree cattle).  These insects do not injury trees but feed on surface debris.
  • Finish any major pruning on hydrangeas and gardenias.

 Fruits and Nuts

  • Last call for major pruning of blueberries.

Vegetable Garden

  • The warm-season vegetables that can be planted outdoors include pole beans, lima beans, sweet corn, cucumbers, southern peas, peppers, pumpkins, summer squash, winter squash, tomatoes and watermelon.
  • Some fall planted warm-season vegetables are subject to more severe pest problems than spring planted crops.  More intensive pest control measures will be required.
  • The cool-season vegetables that can be planted include broccoli, cauliflower, collards, bunching onions, and turnips. 

Lawns

  • Watch for chinch bugs in St. Augustine lawns,mole crickets and sod webworms
  • To help reduce stress on the grass as temperatures rise, raise the lawn mowing height by ½ to 1 inch.
  • Check lawn weekly in order to head off insect or disease problems.

September

Flower

  • Cut back, and remove old flower stalks from flowering annuals and re-fertilize in order to obtain one more color before cool weather.
  • Prepare beds for the planting of cool season annuals next month. Some plants to establish for fall, winter and early spring include:  pansy, petunia, snapdragon, larkspur, stocks, statice, bachelor button, calendula, cleome, alyssum, marigolds, verbena, dianthus and candytuft.
  • Divide perennials such as Shasta daisy, canna, amaryllis, daylily, coneflower, violets, and ornamental grasses like mondo grass and liriope.
  • Cut strong stems of roses to encourage new growth for final flush of the year.
  • Find a local source, or order wildflower seeds for fall planting. Be certain to choose a mixture that is specifically for the south. Prepare the area, but wait until November to seed them.

 Trees and Shrubs

  • Last month to fertilize woody ornamental shrubs in the landscape.
  • No pruning unless it’s absolutely necessary. This is probably the worst time of year to do major pruning of shrubs. Late summer/fall pruning can stimulate tender growth that might be damaged by low winter temperatures.
  • Plant woody ornamentals, including trees, shrubs, vines and ground covers during the fall and early winter. They respond well to planting late in the year because our relatively mild winters allow for root growth. Fall planted shrubs, for example, are well on their way toward having their roots established before hot weather arrives next spring.
  • Select crape myrtles while in bloom. 
  • Examine the small twigs on the outer canopy of hardwood trees for black twig borer damage. Remove and destroy infested twigs.
  • Pine needles fall during September and October. Rake and use them in the vegetable and flower garden as well as in shrub beds. Pine needles make excellent mulch. Apply generously to obtain a depth of 2 to 3 inches on the soil surface after they have settled.
  • Mature palms should receive an application of granular fertilizer. Use a special palm fertilizer that has an 8-2-12 +4Mg (magnesium) with micronutrients formulation.  Apply one pound of fertilizer per 100 sqft of canopy area or landscape area.

Vegetable Garden

  • Prepare the soil now, allowing about 3 weeks between the incorporation of amendments and planting. In September sow seeds of beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, endive, escarole, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsley, radishes and turnips.
  • Last planting of beans (bush, lima and pole), cucumbers and summer squash
  • Clean out the spring/summer vegetable garden once plants have stopped producing. Remove any that are known to have been diseased or heavily insect infested during the previous season.

 Lawns

  • Check the lawn weekly and watch for lawn pests.  Check for chinch bugs and sod webworms in St. Augustine, spittlebugs and sod webworms in centipedegrass and mole cricket damage in all grasses
  • Last month to fertilize bahiagrass, bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass and Zoysiagrass using a complete fertilizer applied at 1.0 lb nitrogen per 1000 square feet containing 50% soluble and 50% slow-release nitrogen.

October

Flowers

  • Get ready to protect valuable container grown tropical and subtropical plants.  Move them indoors when night temperatures drop into the 40°F.
  • To get a Christmas cactus or poinsettia to bloom for Christmas be sure it is not getting light at night.  Starting approximately October 1, put the plants in a dark area that receives no light from  5 p.m. to 8 a.m.  Keep putting it in the dark at night for one month for the cactus, six to eight weeks for the poinsettia.  Place the plant in its normal growing area during the day so that it gets sufficient light.
  • Set out bachelor buttons, calendulas, dianthus, delphinium, flowering cabbage or kale, foxglove, mums, nasturtium, Shasta daisy, snapdragon, statice, sweet alyssum, pansies and petunias.
  • Obtain wildflower seeds and prepare for planting in November. Prepare the soil by tilling thoroughly to a depth of 4 to 5 inches.  Find a local source, or order seed so that planting can be done during late October or early November. Anyone who is not experienced with the establishment of wildflower plantings should start with a good mixture of several kinds.  Choose a southern or southeastern mixture containing such proven species as coreopsis, Indian blanket, lemon mint, coneflower, Drummond phlox, larkspur, black-eyed susan and yarrow.
  • Divide crowded perennials such as ajuga, daylilies, liriope and mondo.
  • Continue to spray roses for diseases.

 Trees and Shrubs

  • Prepare for making an application of horticultural oil this fall if scales, mites, and other plant sucking insects have been a problem on woody ornamentals.
  • Fall is an ideal time for planting many trees and shrubs. When transplanted during the fall, the roots of woody ornamentals continue to grow throughout the winter.  This results in plants that are well on their way toward establishment before hot weather the following spring.

 Fruits and Nuts

  • Locate a source of fruit trees and place your order.  Most are shipped to local outlets during December or January.
  • Begin planting strawberries in mid to late October.  Set out strawberry plants in the garden, in planters or in “strawberry jars.”

 Vegetable Garden

  • Plant seeds or establish transplants of these cool season vegetables: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsley, radish, spinach and turnips.

Lawns

  • Continue mowing and providing general care, including irrigation.  Avoid the application of a fertilizer.  This could encourage excessively tender grass that would result in winter damage.  Instead, allow the grass to gradually go dormant.
  • Overseeding of the permanent lawn with annual ryegrass can be done during October and early November.  Though a well kept cool season lawn can be attractive, it requires a commitment.  Regular mowing, irrigation and a couple of light, supplemental applications of fertilizer will be required during the winter in order to keep the lawn looking its best. Seed should be applied during October or early November.  Use 10 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet of area.
  • Apply a pre-emergence herbicide in early October to control winter weeds.

November

Flowers

  • Cool season flowers which can be planted now include:  carnation, foxglove, pansy, petunia, snapdragon, Shasta daisy, ornamental kale and ornamental cabbage.
  • Prepare to move potted tropical and subtropical plants inside.  Cold sensitive patio plants like schefflera and philodendrons should not be exposed to 40°F nights. Temperatures in the 40’s and even 50’s, though they might not result in frost-like damage, can cause long-term problems.
  • Buy spring bulbs such as tulips and refrigerate them for 8 weeks.
  • When mums have finished blooming, prune back to 3 inches above the ground.

 Trees and Shrubs

  • Now is a great time to plant ornamental trees and shrubs.
  • Locate and order fruit trees so that they can be planted in December.
  • Apply horticultural oil if scales, mites, and other plant sucking insects have been a problem on woody ornamentals.
  • Plant camellias later in the month.
  • Looking for fall color in the landscape?  This is the time of year to identify local plants that yield the best fall leaf color.  Take a look around and see what’s showing up well this fall.  Some to consider for planting include: black gum, hickory, dogwood, crape myrtle, sweetgum, oakleaf hydrangea and red maple.
  • Avoid heavy pruning jobs this late in the year.
  • This is one of the most ideal times for transplanting trees and shrubs.
  • Magnolia and dogwood seeds can be harvested and planted as soon as they are ripe.  Remove the outer pulp and plant them immediately, before they dry out.

 Fruits and Nuts

  • Plant strawberries before November 15.  Recommended varieties for North Florida include: Florida 90, Chandler, Dover, Florida Belle, Oso Grande, Sweet Charlie and Selva.

 Vegetable Garden

  • Start winter vegetables by planting beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustards, onions, parsley, radish and spinach.
  • Havest gourds, butternut squash, pumpkins and other curcurbits as the vines begin to die.  Clip, don’t break about 2 inches of stem with each fruit

Lawns

  • In dry weather, water the lawn to keep it healthy during the winter.
  • If desired, sow annual rye grass at the beginning of the month for a green lawn through the winter.
  • Fertilize annual rye grass with a complete fertilizer after it has been mowed a few times.  Apply at the rate of ½ lb of nitrogen per 1000 sqft.
  • Allow the permanent lawn (centipede and St. Augustine, in particular) to gradually go dormant by withholding fertilizer.

December

Flowers

  • There is still time to plant cool season flowers including:  carnations, digitalis (foxglove), pansy, petunia, Shasta daisy, snapdragon.
  • Prepare sensitive plants for freezes.
  • Take a few cuttings from pentas, ixora, heather and other cold-sensitive perennials.  These can be rooted, potted and held until spring as “insurance” in case extreme cold kills the parent plant.
  • If the area receives cold temperatures and plants freeze, do not prune out damaged wood until spring. 

 Trees and Shrubs

  • Last call for planting bare-root trees and shrubs
  • Resist the urge to fertilize outdoor plants.
  • Collect and stick hardwood cuttings now.  Good candidates for rooting by this method include: privet, forsythia, wisteria, honeysuckle, crape myrtle, althea, fig, quince, grape and hibiscus.
  • There still is time to apply a spray of horticultural oil to shrubs for the control of overwintering scales and mites.  Avoid application during periods when extreme temperatures are expected. 
  • This is a good time to transplant trees and shrubs. 

 Fruits and Nuts

  • Apply a spray of horticultural oil emulsion to dormant fruit trees.
  • Harvest pecans early in order to insure good quality.  Nut quality decreases rapidly if they are allowed to lie on wet ground for several days.  Store them in a clean, dry place.
  • Locate or order fruit trees for planting this winter.
  • Remove sucker growth below the graft of citrus.

 Vegetables

  • Vegetables that can be established this month include beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, Chinese cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, leek, mustard, onions, parsley and radish.
  • Locate sources for Irish potato and English pea seed.  They can be started early in the year.

 Lawns

  • Begin mowing the “over seeded” lawn as soon as it is tall enough to be clipped.
  • Check soil moisture during the winter and water as needed. 

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