October in the Garden

Gardening in October is entirely dependent on the weather. While gardeners in warm areas will have more to do than their northern counterparts, there are plenty of garden tasks to keep everyone busy in October.


In General

  • Get your soil tested and add amendments as needed.

  • Amend your soil with a dressing of compost.

  • Turn your compost pile.

  • Use your garden debris and leaves to start a new compost pile.

  • Plant trees and shrubs. Be sure to keep them well-watered, even through the winter.

  • Continue planting garlic.

  • Plant cool season annuals.

  • Harvest and dry or freeze herbs for winter use.

  • Harvest winter squash once the vines die back.

  • Continue harvesting fall crops like beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale and leeks.


  • Prune Oleander.

  • Plant cool season annuals such as African daisy, foxglove, Iceland poppy, larkspur, lobelia, pansy, petunia, phlox, snapdragon, stock, sweet alyssum, sweet pea, and viola.

  • Feed and water roses, but don't prune now.

  • Plant warm climate bulbs, like those from South Africa (ixia, ornithogalum, sparaxis, tritonia), for early blooms.

  • Pre-chill cool climate bulbs (daffodils, crocus, hyacinth and tulips) before planting.

  • Sow cool season vegetables like beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, radishes, spinach and turnips.

  • Feed azaleas, camellias, hydrangea and rhododendrons with a fertilizer for acid-loving plants such as ferti•lome Azalea, Camellia, Rhododendron Food.

Pacific NW

  • Take advantage of upcoming rains to re-seed bare patches in the lawn.

North Central

  • After the first killing frost, dig your tender bulbs, let dry and package for storage.

  • Winterize your roses.

  • Divide and/or transplant peonies.

  • Plant spring blooming bulbs this month.

  • Keep mowing, as long as the grass is growing. But set your mower to its highest level and let the grass go into winter with at least 3" of growth.


  • Start raking. Shred or compost this fall gold.

  • Cut back and remove diseased perennial foliage.

  • Finish planting bulbs.

  • Keep transplants watered.


  • Clean up and remove dying foliage.

  • Continue planting spring blooming bulbs.

  • Harvest winter squash when the rind is too hard to poke a finger nail into.


  • Plant strawberries now for spring harvesting.

  • Plant cool weather herbs, like cilantro, dill, fennel and parsley.

  • Seed quick growing cool season vegetables, like carrots, lettuce, radishes and spinach. Set out transplants of broccoli and cabbage.

  • Dig and store tender summer blooming bulbs and plant spring bloomers.


  • Keep planting perennials.

  • Make sure plants receive enough water, especially transplants and winter and spring bloomers.

  • Plant a cover crop in the vegetable garden.

  • Harvest sweet potatoes before a frost.


  • Prune avocado, mango and plumeria trees.


By Marie Iannotti, About.com Guide
Regional Gardening Guide for October