6f399b2ab569c6821abaa8ccf6a1d59d

Although the days are shortening at this time of year, a gardener's to-do list is not.

 rvanderhoff

There are so many things to do right in fall, it's difficult to know where to start. Planting, pruning, planting, dividing, planting, weeding and more planting. For those of us lucky enough to live in southern California, fall may be the best time of the year to spend time in the garden. It is certainly the most important time.

The soil is still warm, rains are near and cooler temperatures make being in the garden even more pleasant. The clean, crisp smell of the air and the lengthening shadows on the soil make this my favorite season in the garden.

For me, the soft, golden light of autumn is especially notable. California's, clear, sunny skies are special at any time of the year. Our exceptional light has attracted legions of gardeners as well as plein air artists to our state. It is the quality of California's light that has enticed countless artists to our landscapes and our gardens, as they render what they see from eye to palette to canvas. But the light of fall is the most special. Warm yet soft, bright but restful; it's a pleasant light, a subtle combination of radiance and calmness. Fall's is a kind, friendly light . . . a perfect light for gardening.

Falltasks

Plant winter vegetables and herbs

Changing temperatures mean changing your tomatoes, peppers, squash and other summer plants to their cool-season counterparts. Now is the time to put out leafy specialties like all lettuce, romaine, endive and spinach, also Asian greens and gourmet choices like arugula and radicchio. Onions, garlic and chives are in season, as are all the brothers and sisters of the cabbage family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale. Root crops like these seasons' shorter, cooler days and include radish, beets, turnips, carrots and even potatoes. Finally, this is the time to start any type of peas as well as nutritious fava beans.

If you've previously failed at cilantro, try it now. It won't wither away or go to seed instantly, like it does in the warm months. Other herbs for the season include the cousins anise, dill and fennel as well as borage, chervil, chamomile, chives, parsley and, sorrel.

Plant bulbs

Flower bulbs, such as daffodils, paperwhites, amaryllis, freesia, anemone, Dutch Iris and ranunculus are planted now. These are among the easiest and least expensive additions to a winter and spring flower garden. Either in pots or in the ground, these bulbs will need almost no additional water, fertilizer or other attention. Beware of the packs of tiny little bulbs at a cheap price, which provide very few flowers. Hunt for the largest bulbs available and plant them in groups, taller varieties behind the smaller ones, either in containers on in the ground.

Change flowers

Just like summer vegetables, it's time to replace summer flowers with winter flowers. Petunias, zinnias, dahlias, lobelia and others should give way now to cool-growing pansies, violas, snapdragons, stock, poppies, sweet peas and more. In shady spots, impatiens and begonias will struggle, but cyclamen, primrose or cineraria will be alive with colorful flowers.

Plant native plants

The growing interest in adding a few California native plants into local gardens is long overdue. If you've got the itch, this is the best time to scratch it. Go shopping now and start planting. Easy native specialties like ceanothus, coral bells, California fuchsia, toyon and others should be in good supply and love to be planted just before winter rains.

Start composting

If you haven't started composting at home, this is the time to begin. Fall leaves and garden trimmings offer a plentiful supply of all the ingredients needed to make your own brown gold. Rather than roll the green-waste bin to the curb each week, add it to the compost bin. Soon you will have your own supply of rich, organic mulch – just what your garden needs.

Turn off your sprinklers

I always remind gardeners about now to turn their sprinklers controllers to "OFF". Unlike summer, the weather during the next several months is too irregular for any clock-driven device to be accurate. Until summer returns, it's easy enough to simply use the "MANUAL" feature on the controller. You will save precious water and your plants will thank you.

Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar.

Questions from Readers October 13.

I need a couple of smallish landscape plants for a very shady area and have failed several times. Can you give me a couple of suggestions?

Paul, Costa Mesa

Answer:

Most shady areas are also quite well protected. I would encourage you to consider several foliage plants that might traditionally be seen as indoor only. This list would include Sanseveria, cast iron plant (Aspidistra), pothos, certain philodendrons, zz plant (Zamioculcas), Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), peace lily (Spathiphyllum) and some ferns. Clivia are also well suited to this environment.

Assembly_7-24-10_4

Plant Care Reminders

Outdoor Plants Indoors
House Plants Ron Vanderhoff

Growing an Outdoor Plant, Indoors

Working at a nursery, a common question is “can I grow this indoors”.
Blueberry Monthly Plant Care
Edibles Steve Brigham

Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum x ashei var. Southern Highbush) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Grevillea - Mountain (Grevillea alpina)…

2307 Julie Bawden-Davis
Default Image
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Collard Greens (Brassica oleracea ssp.…

1381 San Diego Seed Company
Collard Greens Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

St. Catherine's Lace (Eriogonum…

42691 Steve Brigham
St. Catherine's Lace Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Gardening Articles

House Wren
Habitat Gardening Ron Vanderhoff

Whose Garden is it anyway, mine or the Wrens?

At the time, I was watering a young plant that I had just put in the ground.
Bulbs, Rhizomes & Corms Crossword Puzzle
Crossword Puzzles Garry Shirts

Puzzle #6 - Bulbs, Rhizomes & Corms

Print this and take a few minutes and have some fun trying to figure this crossword puzzle out. Let us know if you have any suggestions for new puzzles. Be sure not to peek!

Marcie Forsberg - Midwest

37210
Marcie Forsberg
Region: Midwest

New Zealand Flax Winter Plant Care

63942
New Zealand Flax  Winter Care
I am a huge fan of Phormiums.

Brad Monroe - Southwest

7195
Region: Southwest

Plant Recommendations

Butterfly Vine
Plant Recommendations Jacqueline McGee

Vines or Vine Like - Southern California

Jacqueline McGee's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Vines or Vine-Like for Southern California.
Digitalis purpurea

Other Plants in My Garden - Southern California

Jan Brider's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Other Plants In My Garden for Southern California.

Shrubs and Specialty Plants - Arizona

9494 Julie and Steve Plath
Brahea armata
Steve Plath's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Shrubs and Specialty Plants for Arizona.

Favorite Plants To Draw

5294 Tania Marien
Leaf Lily
Tania's Favorite Plants to Draw

Cannas - Southern California

11985 Susi Torre-Bueno
Canna 'Pretoria'
Susi Torre-Bueno's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Cannas for Southern California.

Featured Plant Care

Amaryllis

The Amaryllis - A Class Act

The poinsettia, the Christmas cactus and paperwhites are lovely holiday blooms, but the…
Orchid as a house plant

The Orchid as a Houseplant

in Orchids
Oooh La La—The Orchid as a Houseplant.
Westringia fruticosa Monthly Plant Care

Victorian Rosemary (Westringia fruticosa) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Shrubs
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Cauliflower Plant Care

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea Botrytis Group) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Latest Articles

Edit Your Tagged Photos!

How to Edit or Remove A Plant "Tag" In Your Garden Photos

Instead of 'Tagging' your friends on Facebook, now you can 'Tag' your Plants in your…
Seed Starting

10 Easy Cut Flowers to Direct Sow

in Seeds
A cut-flower garden or "cutting garden" allows you to bring the beauty of your garden…

Popular Articles

Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…
Kahili Ginger Plant Care

Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)