Cooler temperatures have finally arrived in Central Florida and fall brings plenty of changes to the landscape. There's a lot that needs to get done now if you want a beautiful garden.
Experienced gardeners know that fall is for planting. This is one of the best times of the year to install new landscape plants, which are much easier to establish without stress from high temperatures and intense sunlight. Now is also a good time to divide herbaceous perennials. Water as needed during the first few weeks in the ground.
It's time to reduce the frequency of watering for established landscapes. Adjust your automatic irrigation system to come on no more than once per week or turn it off completely for the winter. Reduced watering will slow down growth and increase the plant's ability to withstand any freezing conditions we may have this winter. Growth that has hardened off for the winter is less attractive to insects and less susceptible to disease problems. Less frequent watering will also help plants develop a deeper root system and increase drought tolerance.
Plant cool season annuals now for plenty of color when many other landscape plants are looking drab. Try alyssum, calendula, dianthus, geranium, pansy, petunia, viola and snapdragon in your garden this year. Many of these are fragrant or make excellent cut flowers, thereby extending the level of enjoyment.
Now is also an excellent time to start or add to your herb garden. Many herbs are easier to establish now and some will only grow during the cooler months. Cilantro, dill, fennel, garlic, mitsuba, greek oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme are just a few of the many herbs that thrive now.
In the vegetable garden, the harvest of warm season crops continues. Once those varieties complete their productive phase, pull them out and replace with cool season crops that will continue to produce throughout most of the winter. Now is the time to plant beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, English peas, radish, spinach, strawberry, and turnips.
Harvest sunchokes and arrowroot by digging the tubers as the plants go dormant. Fruits ready for harvest this month include avocado, banana, carambola, glycosmis, papaya, pomegranate, sweet lemon and a few early citrus varieties. If you don't grow these yourself, visit a local farmers market and pick up some freshly-harvested seasonal fruits. The flavor will be far superior than anything you find in the grocery store.
As you travel around Central Florida this month, there will no doubt be some spectacular landscape plants that will catch your eye. Some of the best color right now can be seen on allamanda, caesalpinia, callicarpa,ceiba, cassia, clerodendrum, hibiscus species, justicia, jatropha, malvaviscus and odontonema. Click on the links for profiles and photos.
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