October Tips: Southern California

In Southern California, September can provide some of the year's most pleasant weather. Celebrate with a planting spree.


Enlarge Image It's a great time to plant perennials.
  • As the weather cools and the sun moves lower in the sky, reset your irrigation timer to water less frequently. However, don't change the number of minutes the system waters each time.

Planting Trees and Shrubs -- It's time to get planting again. The pleasant weather is great for planting perennials, ground covers, herbs, roses, and trees and shrubs. It's also ideal for planting native plants, trees, shrubs, and perennials. And don't forget native wildflowers. They'll germinate beautifully with the winter rains.

Planting Trees and Shrubs

  • It's also the time to plant beds with cool-season flowers, such as pansies, calendula, candytuft, foxgloves, snapdragons, sweet peas, stock, and sweet alyssum.
  • Also plant cool-season veggies and herbs, such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cilantro, dill, fennel, lettuces and greens, parsley, potatoes, radishes, and peas.
  • In hot desert regions, warm-season plants can also be sown or transplanted, with the exception of corn and melons, which should be planted in late winter.
  • Plant South African bulbs, such as babiana, croscosmia, freesia, ipheion, ixia, and watsonia. Also plant oxalis and Tazetta-type narcissus, including paperwhites. Now is also a good time to plant lilies.
  • Pre-chill the bulbs that need it for spring bloom, including tulips, hyacinths, and crocuses. You can buy anemones, daffodils, grape hyacinths, and ranunculus now but don't plant them in the ground just yet. Store them in a cool, dry place, such as your garage, to plant next month.
  • In all but the very warmest regions, hold off on planting tropicals, which may be injured by frost. They include bananas, citrus, avocado, heliconia, gingers, palms, and hibiscus. It's best to plant them in late spring.

Dividing Perennials -- Now is a good time to divide perennials, especially those that bloom in the spring. This way, they'll have time to establish themselves before it's time to flower.

Dividing Perennials

  • Remove the remnants of the warm-season plantings, including warm-season annual flowers, herbs, and vegetables that have faded.

Smart Pruning -- Prune trees and shrubs as needed, cutting out dead branches and shaping plants in preparation for winter growth.

Smart Pruning

  • Cut back geraniums (Perlagonium) to renew them and prevent unsightly, leggy growth.
  • Fertilize lawns, using a product made especially for fall, if possible. Fall is also a good time to dethatch and aerate your lawn.
  • If you are overseeding with fescue or rye for winter, quit feeding and watering Bermuda lawns and overseed them now. Otherwise, continue to feed and water Bermuda lawns to delay their dormancy.

Feeding Roses -- Fertilize roses to encourage further bloom.

Feeding Roses

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