October Gardening Activities - Region 6

Gardening Tips for October

Tropical and Sub-Tropical Gardens

Learn2Grow Region 6 Map

States in the region:

Hawaii, Florida (Southern), Texas (Southern), Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
and other U.S. Territories

Key Issues for October

  • Scout your St. Augustine grass for chinch bugs, sod webworms, take-all root rot and brown patch disease. Catching and properly treating lawn problems at the start is the best defense for a healthy yard.
  • Oleander caterpillars can be actively feeding on oleander, cassia and bougainvillea. The easiest way to control caterpillars in the garden is to pick the unwanted leaf-munchers off your plants and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. If you don’t know what type of caterpillar you’re dealing with, it’s best to wear gloves in the event that the pest is of a stinging variety. Contact your local Cooperative Extension office to positively identify pests in your garden.
  • Be on the lookout for spider mites. This pest causes damage to pittosporum, azalea, camellia, citrus and roses. If found, treat with a recommended insecticide labeled for mite control, carefully following all product instructions.
  • Assess plants that have suffered storm damage. Remove any that show signs of stress from breaks or cracks. All remaining dead wood should also be eliminated. Try to prepare your garden for hurricanes before the next storm hits.
  • Continue to stay cool and protected in the garden. After a long, hot summer, it’s nice to be outside again, but sunblock, a hat and water bottle are still essential!
  • Remember the H2O! Fall temps may get cooler, but your garden can still be exposed to long spans of dry, sunny weather. It’s particularly important that all newly planted perennials, groundcovers, trees and shrubs don’t dry out. The trick is to water deeply – not just at surface level – to establish self-sufficient plants.
  • Turn an ordinary pumpkin into a beautiful fall planter!
  • Add interest and fragrance to space-challenged planting areas with small yuccas. These great plants easily transition into any garden space and style – formal or informal.
  • Plant annuals. Flowers typically planted in summer in more northern climates are perfect for your region’s fall and winter gardens. Not sure what to plant? Try petunias, snapdragons, angelonia, marigolds and nasturtiums.
  • Visit your local botanical garden and take note of the fall plants that grow well in your area. Write down the names of the plants you like, then look them up in the Learn2Grow Plant Database to learn more about how to plant, care for and enjoy these beauties in your own garden.
  • Get ready for Halloween! Pumpkins take center stage when you create a unique pumpkin totem pole. Make it a fun day for the family: Pick your pumpkins, paint them, then see how they stack up!
  • Fertilize trees and shrubs before cooler weather arrives, especially all citrus, gardenias, hibiscus and other tropical flowering beauties.
  • Fertilize the lawn with a slow-release nitrogen product, carefully reading and following all label directions. Green up your warm-season turf by following a good care & maintenance regimen.
  • Build a raised bed for your fall and winter crops, like strawberries or other bedding plants. This simple project can be done over a weekend and is a great planting option for small spaces.
  • Check the mulch around your trees and shrubs. A 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch suppresses weeds, conserves moisture, supplies nutrients to the soil as it decomposes and moderates the soil temperature, cooling where necessary and keeping roots warm on cool nights. If your mulch layers have depleted, add more. Apply mulch carefully so that it doesn’t pile up or touch the trunks of plants. (In other words: No mulch volcanoes!)
  • Prepare and plant your next vegetable garden. (With a little planning, you can grow vegetables year-round!) Veggies that you can seed directly in the garden in early October include pole and bush beans, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, greens, cucumbers and peppers.
  • Start a new herb garden from current plants. Most herbs, like rosemary, basil and oregano, can be propagated by cuttings for next year’s bounty. Or refresh your herb garden with a few new plants. (Don’t be afraid to grow something different, like arugula, lemongrass, chicory or Thai basil.) If you’re new to growing herbs, give it a try. It’s a fun and easy way to spice up your garden – and meals!
  • Build or buy a compost bin for all your yard waste, then make your own compost. (You reduce, reuse and recycle when you do!) As you start your fall garden cleanup, add non-diseased garden debris to your compost pile instead of the trash. Composting is an easy, smart and affordable way to make “black gold” for your garden!
  • Give your watering system a good checkup. Look for and repair any broken lines and heads that are wasting water. As the drier months approach, you’ll want basic irrigation equipment in tip-top shape!
  • Start a new herb garden from current plants. Most herbs, like rosemary, basil and oregano, can be propagated by cuttings for next year’s bounty. Or refresh your herb garden with a few new plants. (Don’t be afraid to grow something different, like arugula, lemongrass, chicory or Thai basil.) If you’re new to growing herbs, give it a try. It’s a fun and easy way to spice up your garden – and meals!
  • Give your watering system a good checkup. Look for and repair any broken lines and heads that are wasting water. As the drier months approach, you’ll want basic irrigation equipment in tip-top shape!
  • Build or buy a compost bin for all your yard waste, then make your own compost. (You reduce, reuse and recycle when you do!) As you start your fall garden cleanup, add non-diseased garden debris to your compost pile instead of the trash. Composting is an easy, smart and affordable way to make “black gold” for your garden!