In Austin, October is the best time for planting Trees, and Fall Gardens!

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Austin October Planting Guide

It’s tree planting time!

Fall and winter are the best times to plant shade trees. Cooler weather allows root systems to establish, resulting in greater growth during the spring and better tolerance to hot summer temperatures. Once mature, trees can reduce your home’s summertime air conditioning costs by as much as 15 percent. The best trees for height and shade include pecan, elm and oak. They will shade your home during the summer months but lose their leaves during winter, allowing sunlight through to help keep your home warmer. It is important to plant the right tree in the right place. Large shade trees should be planted at least 50 feet away from power lines. Trees growing into power lines are the number one cause of power outages during storms and windy weather. If you have a rooftop solar system, be sure to carefully consider the location, mature height and spread of any trees you plant so they do not shade the panels. For energy-saving tips and tricks, visit

October Fall Gardening Checklist

Plant vegetable seeds

Beets, Carrot, Mustard, Onion, Garden Pea, Radishes, Spinach, Turnip. EARLY OCTOBER: Chinese Cabbage, Collards, Garlic, Lettuce.

Plant vegetable plants

Chinese Cabbage, Collards (and other Greens), Lettuce, Spinach, Turnip, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese Greens, Lettuce, and Spinach can be planted throughout the fall, if they are given frost protection.

Plant herbs

All perennial herb plants; also Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Parsley. Seeds: Borage, Caraway, Chamomile, Chervil, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Parsley, Summer Savory.

Plant annual flower/ornamental seeds

Sweet Alyssum, Calendula, Centaurea, Coreopsis, Johnny Jump-Up, Larkspur, Nasturtium, Pansy, Poppy, Snapdragon, Sweet Pea.

Plant annual flower/ornamental plants

Sweet Alyssum, Calendula, Centaurea, Coreopsis, Johnny Jump-Up, Larkspur, Nasturtium, Pansy, Poppy, Snapdragon, Sweet Pea.

Plant perennials, trees, and shrubs

Plant Columbine (in a shady location) now in order to have those springtime blooms.

Plant ground covers and borders
Plant wildflower seeds

This month is the ideal time to plant them. We are often asked about Bluebonnet inoculant.  It is not necessary for the Bluebonnets to grow.  From the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center: “It is, in fact, not really necessary to inoculate the soil to successfully grow bluebonnets.  Rhizobium does help bluebonnets and other, mostly leguminous, plants grow in poor, nitrogen-deficient soils.  Given sufficient nitrogen fertilizer and grown in reasonably high pH soil, bluebonnets will grow and flower just fine.”

Divide perennials

Transplant or give away your divisions of: daylily, bearded iris, shasta daisies, violets, wood ferns, and cannas.

Start, or add to, a compost pile.

Be on the lookout for Brown Patch in the (usually St. Augustine) lawn. Treat brown patch by increasing the beneficial soil life. Topdress with good quality manure compost and/or spray lawn with aerobically brewed compost tea. Add corn meal at 20 pounds per 1000 square feet. Apply Actinovate at one pound per 1000 square feet of problem area. Also address other causal factors by filling in low spots, mowing at the proper height, and watering and feeding properly.

Plant cool-season cover crops

Plant clovers, hairy vetch, Austrian winter peas, or annual rye instead of mulching, and till them in next spring before they flower. Cereal rye is a cover crop that can assist in controlling the root-knot nematode in the soil. If you plant Cereal rye, it should be cut and tilled in before it gets to be a foot tall. For all cover crops, wait at least a couple of weeks after tilling before you plant anything else, to allow the organic matter to decompose.

Plant naturalizing bulbs

Unlike so-called Dutch bulbs that require refrigeration and have to be replanted each year, naturalizing are well-suited to our soils and climate, and they’ll make themselves right at home in a Central Texas garden. Anemones, Oxblood Lilies, Spider Lilies, Grape Muscari, and many types of Narcissus have been gracing Austin homesteads for well over a hundred years, and they continue to thrive today. A wise gardener once observed, “there’s no substituting for wild genetic vigor in any plant,” and these beautiful flowering bulbs prove it. They’ll return year after year, they’ll increase in number, and they require virtually no care.  Here are just a few types of bulbs that can naturalize here: Anemone; Allium; Byzantine Gladiola; Crocus; Daffodil/Narcissus: “Carbineer,” “Carlton,” “Ceylon,” “Delibes,” “Earlicheer,” “Fortune,” “Grand Primo,” “Ice Follies,” “Mount Hood,” “Paperwhites,” and “Rustom Pasha;” Freesia; Hyacinth orientalis var. albulus (French-Roman hyacinth); Ipheion uniflorum (blue starflowers); Iris; Lycoris squamigera (magic lily); Leucojum aestivum (summer snowflake); Muscari neglectum (a.k.a. M. racemosum or M. atlanticum); Tulipa bakeri, Tulipa clusiana, Tulipa linifolia, Tulipa sylvestris; Zephyranthes candida (rain lily); and Zephyranthes drummondii (giant prairie lily).

Spray lawn and landscape weekly with seaweed spray

Seaweed’s potassium, along with other minerals and hormones, makes it the perfect anti-freeze for all plants. Other benefits include increased disease and pest resistance and promotion of flowering. For best results, spray in the early morning or in the evening.

The Natural Gardener    8648 Old Bee Caves Road    Austin, Texas 78735
Phone: 512.288.6113    Fax: 512.288.6114

-Nate Jones, Austin Realtor