Monthly Horticulture Tips 

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service
Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
Oklahoma State University

Tips for October


Download full tips pdf here.

By David Hillock



  • You can continue to replant or establish cool-season lawns like fescue.
  • The mowing height for fescue should be lowered to approximately 2½ inches for fall and winter cutting.
  • Broadleaf weeds like dandelions can be easily controlled during October (HLA-6601).
  • Mow and neatly edge warm-season lawns before killing frost.


  • Plant cool-season annuals like pansies, ornamental cabbage or kale, snapdragons and dusty miller when temperatures begin to cool.
  • Begin planting spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, hyacinths, crocus and daffodils.
  • Good companion plants for bulbs are ground covers such as ajuga, vinca, English ivy, alyssum, moneywort, thrift, phlox, oxalis and leadwort.
  • Peonies, daylilies, and other spring-flowering perennials should be divided or planted now.
  • Dig and store tender perennials like cannas, dahlias, and caladiums in a cool, dry location.
  • Purchase trees from nurseries and garden centers at this time to select the fall color you prefer.
  • Many perennials can be planted at this time and the selection is quite nice.
  • Plant fall mums and asters and keep them watered during dry conditions. Don’t crowd since they take a couple of years to reach maturity.
  • Plant container-grown trees and shrubs this month.
  • Check and treat houseplants for insect pests before bringing them indoors and repot rootbound plants.

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Dig sweet potatoes and harvest pumpkins and winter squash.
  • Remove green fruit from tomato plants when frost threatens.
  • Harvest Oriental persimmons and pawpaws as they begin to change color.
  • There is still time to plant radishes and mustard in the fall garden.
  • Use a cold frame device to plant spinach, lettuce and various other cool-season crops for production most of the winter.
  • Plant cool-season cover crops like Austrian winter peas, wheat, clover, and rye in otherwise fallow garden plots.
  • Remove all debris from the garden to prevent overwintering of various garden pests.
  • Start new planting bed preparations now with plenty of organic matter.

Water Gardens

  • Take tropical water garden plants indoors when water temperatures near 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Close the water garden for the winter by placing hardy plants in the deeper areas of the pool. Stop feeding the fish.
  • Cover water gardens with bird netting to catch dropping leaves during the winter months.

Raking Basics

Fall is soon upon us and it is time to begin thinking about what you will do with all those leaves. Just bagging them and letting them go to the landfill is a waste of our tax dollars and of a valuable garden resource. Instead of bagging them and hauling off to the dump this year consider these suggestions.

Use as a Mulch – An easy way to get rid of leaves is to simply rake them onto the perennial beds as a nice winter mulch. Some say that leaves may suffocate your plants — but use your good judgment. Small leaves generally will not offer any threat but huge leaves, such as sycamore, might.

Compost Them – Place them in the compost pile along with other garden plant material. You don’t need a special compost bin to accomplish this process. A big hole dug behind the garage or some other inconspicuous place works nicely. Fill the hole with lots of leaves and other garden plant material.

Mow ‘Em – This is the method I like to use. I simply mow over them as often as necessary before they build up to deep. The chopped leaves return valuable organic matter and nutrients to the soil. If you use a mower with a bag attachment you can capture the chopped leaves and then distribute them as needed. They work well as an excellent mulch, compost fodder, or can be worked into your vegetable garden.

Leaf Power – If you have tons of leaves, you may consider buying or renting a vacuum-shredder. This is more effective than just blowing them around with a blower. Vacuum-shredders suck up the leaves, chop them, and then collect them into a bag. Use as described above. Remember, however, that shredders, blowers, and choppers work well only when the leaves are nice and dry. If they’re too wet, they’ll just clog.

Back to Nature – If you own a wooded area or large property where you can dispose of leaves, go for it. However, remember that too many leaves can suffocate existing plants, so spread them out a bit.