Garden tasks for October 2014


Flower garden

Continue to take cuttings of fuchsias, dahlias and chrysanthemums.

Pinch back the growing tips of chrysanthemums to encourage flowering.

Gladiolus bulbs should be planted at fortnightly intervals from now until Christmas to provide a succession of summer blooms.

Arthopodiums, or renga rengas, prefer to be transplanted in spring. Lift old clumps and divide up carefully. Cut all the leaves back by half, and plant them in a spot with perfect drainage – preferably in part shade.

Early spring flowering shrubs like weigela, garrya and forsythia, and climbers like jasmine and wonga –wonga vine (Pandorea pandorana), should be pruned and fed now. Remove all shoots that have flowered plus any weak growth.

Woodier shrubs that flower on fresh growth, such as hibiscus, lantana, tibouchina and portwine magnolia (Michelia figo) can be cut back vigorously to keep them in check.

Rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas respond well to an acid fertiliser applied straight after flowering.

Arcotis daisies will benefit from a regular groom with scissors. By clearing away old flowers, you will encourage a longer performance.

Sow seeds of flowering annuals directly into the ground – alyssum, Californian poppy, statice, marigolds, cosmos, nasturtium and sunflowers.

Sow in trays for transplanting later – carnations, dahlia, livingstone daisy, petunia, salvia and gerberas.

Plant out seedlings of flowering annuals.

Fruit and vegetable garden

Apple, citrus, feijoa, peach, pear, plum, persimmon and quince trees can still be planted for late summer and early autumn fruiting. Remember good drainage is essential for the well-being of young fruit trees. Shelter from cold winds is also important.

Spray apple and pear trees at blossom fall to protect bees. Non-chemical lures can also be used to protect apple and pear trees from codling moth damage. These pheromone lures trap the male moth with the scent used by the female. These traps are harmless to pets, bees and beneficial insects.

Dust cabbages and cauliflowers with derris to kill caterpillars – check constantly for slugs and snails.

Sow lettuce and radish every few weeks.

Plant out main crop potatoes.

Many cold weather crops such as cabbage, cauliflower and edible mustard will be rushing into flower, so pick and use as soon as they are mature. Sprouting broccoli will also keep producing longer if picked regularly.

Now the danger of frost is over, seeds of tender plants can be safely sown directly into the soil. Sow direct – beans, peas, carrots, sweet-corn, beetroot, silver-beet, spinach and parsnip.

Sow direct or in trays – eggplant, cauliflower, cucumber, courgettes, pumpkin, tomatoes and peppers.

Choose a warm day and transplant vegetable seedlings into reasonably friable soil.


Regular mowing is essential this month. As the weather gets warmer, your lawn will grow rapidly. For a perfect lawn, mow at least twice a week, and remove clippings (these attract earthworms and encourage fungal disease).

If your lawn is still very wet, identify drainage problems. Use a corer to open up soil, and add sand to improve drainage.

Late October is an ideal time to give lawn an extra feed of slow release fertiliser to strength it ahead of summer.

Second thoughts

Orchids like to be jammed into their pots, but you can divide old clumps now flowering is over, using orchid mix.

October is a good time to trim hedges – the first flush of spring growth will be covering the hedge, as well as paths in some gardens.