Tropical Style

Southern California Gardener's October Checklist

Fall is prime planting time in Southern California. The nicely organized one of us are supposed to program all year long so they’re prepared to spring into action the instant the hot weather subsides (typically by mid-October). The shorter days, cooler nights and low-angle sunlight of autumn add up to lower water stress on new plants, while the still-warm soil enables roots to thrive.

Prime planting season continues through January or so, when much-welcome rains (fingers crossed) give young plants an extra leg up. Keep an eye out for hot, dry Santa Ana winds early in the summer, however, and be prepared to apply extra irrigation to garden newcomers to prevent them from turning into shoe leather.

See a sampling of fall planting selections below.

Note: Considering that bare-root season is coming with the new calendar year, you can find a good healthy start for all these varieties and save cash by waiting to plant when they come on the market in winter. Start looking for bare-root deciduous fruit trees, berries and roses in a wide choice of varieties come January and February.

Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates

Plant trees, shrubs and ground covers. With the exclusion of warm-season growers, pretty much whatever gains from the positive conditions of fall planting. (It is best to wait to plant warm-season growers before, well, the warm season. Warm-season growers comprise tropicals, subtropicals, some flowers and summer dishes.)

Las Pilitas Nursery

Plant California natives. Native California and Mediterranean plants are especially grateful for autumn planting, as they’re uniquely adapted to the rhythm of Southern California seasons. Should you plant them now, you won’t find much activity above earth for a few months, but by spring you’ll see dramatic evidence of autumn-through-winter underground growth, with an abundance of healthy new foliage supported by well-established roots.

Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica) produces a fantastic moderate – to large scale billowy ground cover, understory plant or casual screen. It is an important food plant for indigenous fauna, has attractive berries, is drought tolerant and can be quite bulletproof. Like many Mediterranean-adapted plants, it wants good drainage and deep, infrequent watering.

Las Pilitas Nursery

Silk tassel(Garrya elliptica varieties) is a brassy, somewhat thin tree. Try it for an informal screen or a”hedge” using a punch. Start looking for named types for your showiest inflorescence.

Las Pilitas Nursery

On the Lookout for a California native showstopper? Try Mountain Lilac (Ceanothus varieties)in a variety of colors — from white through deep blue — and sizes — from ground cover to tree. It puts on a show just as many gardens are at their dreariest, in late winter to early spring. This is a low ground cover variety.

Pete Veilleux, East Bay Wilds

Mountain Lilac is uberversatile. From subtle and sublime to loud and attention stealing, Mountain Lilac does it all. This Ceanothus was given a custom made haircut and a splashy background — talk about drama!

Las Pilitas Nursery

Sages are quickly growing, showy and attractive to wildlife. What more do you desire in a plant?

Las Pilitas Nursery

Start looking for several species and types of sage, from ground cover to large shrub, and flowers in a wide range of colors.

Las Pilitas Nursery

There are even a few sages that can take dry shade, similar to this hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea).

Las Pilitas Nursery

Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) is a great and otherworldly indigenous for gardens with a knee room.

Zeterre Landscape Architecture

Plant Mediterranean natives. Fall weather offers the ideal planting requirements for plants from other Mediterranean climate regions, also. Many plants of Australian, South African and African origin will profit from fall planting. Start looking for lavenders, sages, aloes, agaves and Dianellas, among hundreds of different candidates, for October planting.

Timothy Sheehan, ASLA

Plant spring-blooming bulbs. Place spring-flowering bulbs in the ground as soon as you can deliver a sign of seasonality (that can be too overly vague in our region) and color in early spring.

Check your regional nursery for good choices to your area. Bulb catalogs are a fine source for spring-flowering bulbs also, but it is a little late in the season, so supplies could be rapid and low shipping may be required to get bulbs until they begin to sprout.

The listing of fall-planted bulbs is extended. It features daffodil (shown), narcissus, anemone, calla, Crinum, tulip, dahlia and freesia.

J. Peterson Garden Design

Plant cool-season vegetables. Cool-season veggies may be sown from seed or put out as small plants once the danger of searing heat has passed. If you are well disciplined, repeat sowing of fast varieties — like radishes, carrots, lettuces, cilantro and salad greens — each couple of weeks will keep you in fresh, tender create throughout autumn and winter.

Many leaf crops (lettuce, mesclun mix, arugula) go in the ground this month and may be sown every couple of weeks to get continual harvesting throughout the cool period.

See more salad greens to plant this month

J. Peterson Garden Design

Crucifers, or members of the cabbage family, are planted as soon as the days cool off. Start looking for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and others.

Jocelyn H. Chilvers

Plant root plants. Most root plants — radishes, carrots, beets — are planted this month and during autumn.

The New York Botanical Garden

Plant cool-season flowers. Sow cool-season flowers (and ornamental foliage plants, like flowering ginseng ) from seed now or place them out as small plants through late autumn. Early autumn planting can bring flowers in time for the holidays; later plantings can last throughout spring.

Iceland poppy (shown) is a classic. Plant it now in masses to get a playful cool-season screen.

Beertje Vonk Artist

This window box spilleth over with pansies and Johnny-jump-ups (Viola). White English daisies supply a splash in the middle of the planting.

Tip: Attempt some Johnny-jump-up blossoms on your salad for color, flavor and a conversation starter.

Jean Marsh Design

Sow seeds of nasturtium to get a gorgeous colour of color; harvest flowers and tender seed pods to get a spicy addition to sandwiches.

Barbara Pintozzi

Shop for autumn foliage trees while they’re in color. If you hunger for vibrant fall foliage in your garden, now is the time to get out and fulfill your options face to face. I’m a firm believer in dating before marriage; I also believe strongly in selecting trees in person before committing to a lifetime together. Varieties vary (I guess that is a given), and they react differently to various microclimates, so it is prudent to study actual trees on your actual area so that you get what you really want.

Pistachio (shown) puts on an energetic — if brief — color show in our moderate Southern California autumn weather.

The New York Botanical Garden

Gingko (shown), liquidambar and crape myrtle are a few trees which place on a show for would-be leaf peepers. Don’t do not anticipate a Vermont-scale spectacle, and figure on your autumn color coming closer to Christmas, and you won’t be disappointed. This is Southern California, after all.

Richard Kramer

Some varieties of Japanese maple can be disappointing in our mild climate, using their leaves simply turning brown and crunchy and clinging to the tree before spring expansion pushes them off. For good fall color in your garden, shop for Japanese maples concealed in autumn color.

Las Pilitas Nursery

Search for wildflower seeds. It is well worth picking up wildflower seeds prior to the end of the month — you’ll have fresh seeds to select from and get prepared to sow them as soon as the rains come, be it that the start of November or not before the turn of this year. (Depending on who your trick-or-treaters are, look at giving out wildflower seeds — adults that follow small ghouls especially appreciate the notion.)

Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates

Plant or fix cool-season lawns. Cool-season lawns can be seeded now or place in as sod. Start looking for low-water and low-mow types for our drought-challenged climate.

More tips for autumn lawn care

More manuals to California gardening | Locate your U.S. garden checklist

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