October in the garden: Marigolds is this month’s flower

BY Lori Murray

Marigolds have come to be associated with passion, so much so that they have been used as love charms and wrapped in wedding garlands. October’s magnolia is an evergreen with a lovely fragrance and a certain sweetness. It also displays a love of nature.

This is the month we look forward to!! Some nurseries are already flooded with vibrant possibilities, and there’s more to come! It’s time to plan and plant beds and containers for winter color, to add compost to our soils, to plant vegetables and to fertilize lawns to promote their health through the winter. Chrysanthemums and Poinsettias are ready to be fed too. In the cooler climate, roses, petunias, chrysanthemums, and impatients move to center stage.

POINSETTIAS: Beginning October 1st, make sure the plant has complete darkness at night. If you cannot keep it from light in the nighttime, cover it with a box. This is very important because the colors of the bracts are created through photoperiodism, meaning that they require darkness to change colors. They need 12 hours at a time for at least 5 days in a row. This darkness creates the colors of the bracts. When the bracts are colored, the plant will need bright abundant sunlight during the day for the brightest color.

PLANT: TREES (late in the month) – This month and the next are optimum times for planting trees in the Rio Grande Valley. Texas Arbor Day is actually November 1st. Flowers have no end of possibilities: anemone, scarified bluebonnet seeds, calendula, candytuft, carnation, Canterbury bell, daylilies, delphinium, geranium, gladiolas, hollyhock, Dutch iris, oxalis, pansy, petunia, phlox, pinks, ranaculus, roses, snapdragon, stock, and any of a host of other flowers that appeal to you. Vegetables include beets, beans, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, collards, spinach, lettuce, mustard onions, turnips. Tomatoes do very well but remember that you may have to protect them should the weather turn unseasonably cold. Various herbs do well during our cooler months, so you can plant cilantro, basil, and parsley now for use throughout the winter. Only your imagination limits your choices! This is also a time to plant St Augustine and winter rye grass.

FERTILIZE: grass and trees

PRUNE: Nothing

HARVEST: Avocados, citrus, cucumbers, early green beans

CREATE: a new bed for roses or other appealing bloomers that won’t be damaged by a cold spell