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October gardening and Master Gardener Fall Plant Sale

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This is the best time of year to plant petunias. They’ll bloom a little now, grow through winter and explode with color in spring. Petunias prefer the cool season and usually are not damaged by our winter weather. It’s the heat of summer that does them in.

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October brings welcomed relief from summer’s heat. And it’s a great time to plant a wide range of plants.

Fall is the best time for planting shrubs. Fall planted shrubs have all winter to grow roots and so will be better established when spring and summer heat arrive. Newly planted shrubs will need regular watering. A micro-irrigation system with an emitter over the root ball of each shrub is an efficient way to water. Such systems are inexpensive, easy to install and can mean the difference between success and failure with your new plants.

David Marshall, retired UF/IFAS Extension Agent, and I provide ideas on things to do during October in your landscape and garden in today’s article.

This is the best time of year to plant petunias. They’ll bloom a little now, grow through winter and explode with color in spring. Petunias prefer the cool season and usually are not damaged by our winter weather. It’s the heat of summer that does them in.

 

As temperatures cool later this month, plant other cool-season annuals, too. Nemesia, diascia, sweet alyssum, calibrachoa, pansies and violas are among the lower growing flowers that are great for beds and containers. For taller plants, try dianthus, dusty miller, snapdragons and Flambe Yellow chrysocephalum or strawflower. Be sure to plant all these flowers in full sun for best results.

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Late October to November is the time to seed cool-season annuals. Larkspur and bachelor buttons are probably the easiest. But poppies and sweet peas are relatively easy too. Find a sunny spot in an established flowerbed. Pull back the mulch. If the soil isn’t compacted, rough it up a little with a steel rake. If it is compacted, till or spade it lightly. Don’t plant the seed too deep. Sow seed on the soil surface and press or rake them into closer contact with the soil. Keep soil moist, at least until seedlings emerge and establish roots.

 

Now is the time to plant cool-season vegetables such as beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, kohlrabi, mustard, bulbing onions, radishes, spinach, strawberries and turnips. Herbs such as parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary can be planted now, too.

The Okaloosa County Master Gardeners will hold a fall plant sale from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday, October 14 at the Okaloosa Extension Annex located at 127 NW Hollywood Boulevard in Fort Walton Beach. This plant sale will be held indoors, rain or shine. Some of the featured plants include red leaf hibiscus, dwarf Turk’s cap, evergreen gloxinia, red and white salvia, fire spike and Mexican bush sage.

 

Larry Williams is the Extension horticulture agent with the Okaloosa County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida. Contact Larry at 689-5850 or email [email protected].

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