MMG October 2020

April is a horticulturist, retired from the Chicago Botanic Garden. She shares monthly gardening tips and would love to help you out with plant and gardening questions. Just send her an email and she will get back to you.





October is the time to enjoy the beauty of Fall in all its colorful glory. There are sunny, cool days making working in the garden a joy. The first frost date is approximately October 19-31st. We need to prepare the garden for the upcoming cold, freezing weather.

  1. Perennials-If the weather is dry continue to water plants, but do not fertilize or mulch plants at this time. Mulch after ground freezes.
  2. Annuals-Pot up or bring indoors any annuals you can overwinter for next season. Drench plants being overwintered indoors with a soap solution to eliminate bugs. Pull annuals left in beds after the hard frost kills the plants but remember as you are pulling plants to shake them upside down so all seeds stay in bed and may reseed in the spring. If there are empty beds with no bulbs/seeds apply manure or compost and rototill the soil.
  3. Seed Saving-Continue to collect seeds for next season. Remember to fully dry the seeds before storing and most importantly name and date the seeds.
  4. Bulbs-Continue to dig and store tender bulbs before freezing temperatures. Begin to plant hardy spring bulbs and continue until the ground freezes.
  5. Lawn Care-Continue to water the lawn if needed. Mow to 2 inches in height until growth slows down. Keep lawns free of leaves and debris.
  6. Vegetable Garden-After hard frost remove all dead plant debris from beds. Add manure or mulch to empty beds. Apply a mulch or compost over all winter vegetables so they can be harvested well into the winter.
  7. Trees and Shrubs-Continue to transplant deciduous trees and shrubs once leaves have fallen. Protect trunks of trees and shrubs with a tree wrap or screening to prevent deer or rodent damage. Remove diseased debris around base of trees and shrubs.
  8. Fruit Trees-Wrap trunks of newly planted fruit trees to prevent sunscald. Clean up fallen fruit and debris around fruit trees and berries to prevent disease next year.
  9. Maintenance-Store clay or ceramic pots to prevent freezing and cracking in winter. Store all lawn ornaments and furniture, repair or clean if needed. Check lawnmower and repair before storing for winter. Check snowblower for repairs in case snow comes early.
  10. Indoor Plants-Check for space for all your plants brought indoors. Extra humidity may be needed for indoor plants in a dry, heated house.