October is a busy month in the garden says Jason Reeves, research horticulturist and garden curator at the University of Tennessee Gardens in Jackson, Tenn.

Reeves’ tips for October include:

• Now is a good time to plant trees and shrubs since dormant plants will be under less stress. Newly installed deciduous plants require almost no watering during the winter months, but don’t forget a thorough initial watering, which is paramount. Monitor newly planted evergreens such as junipers, hollies and arborvitae for watering needs if rain is sparse. Even in winter, a plant with leaves on it will transpire. Winter wind drying can hurt an evergreen tree that lacks sufficient moisture.

• October is a good time for you “yardeners” to control broadleaf weeds such as white clover and wild garlic. Check with your county’s UT Extension office for specific recommendations.

• To make leaf removal less of a chore, rake them before they accumulate deeply. If you have a fescue lawn or moss garden, it is even more important to keep the leaves off of it. Compost or use them as mulch in your beds. You can also till them into your soil, and by spring they will be composted. Leaves on the lawn can be chopped with the lawnmower and left in place if not too deep.

• Remember that seasonal mums are more valuable as compost than as “keep around plants” after they’ve faded. Don’t be tempted to plant them because even if they establish themselves, they rarely live up to your expectations the following year. Chrysanthemum “Clara Curtis,” “Ryan’s Yellow” and “Sheffield Pink” are good, reliable perennial cultivars that perform well and make good additions to the landscape.

• October is the preferred time to plant ornamental kale, Swiss chard, and pansies. These are lovely additions to the fall and winter landscape, as well as being edible. Look for the winterbor and Russian kales as they are more reliable in cold weather than the kales known commonly as "flowering cabbage."

• Don’t forget to bring in your tropical plants and houseplants before frost. Many plants don’t like it when the temps drop into the 40’s.

• Wash your pumpkins, gourds and winter squash in a mild bleach solution before displaying or storing to help prevent rot.

And most important, Reeves says, is to take time to sit back and enjoy the beauty of the season as temperatures cool and fall colors dazzle.

Designated as the official botanical garden for the State of Tennessee, the UT Gardens includes plant collections located in Knoxville, Jackson and Crossville. As part of the UT Institute of Agriculture, the gardens’ mission is to foster appreciation, education and stewardship of plants through garden displays, educational programs and research trials. The gardens are open during all seasons and free to the public. Visit them from dawn to dusk to see beauty and get ideas for your own garden. For more information see http://utgardens.tennessee.edu



Jason Reeves, UT Gardens, Jackson, research horticulturist and curator, 731-425-4765, jreeves@tennessee.edu