Gardening In October, Things To Do


Here it is, more than halfway through the month of October and I haven’t posted this page of garden chore reminders, yet. Luckily the weather was great for gardening, and the leaves have only tentatively fallen.

We also have had one of the earliest snowfalls (where snow did not immediately melt) that I can remember.

I find October to be one of the most beautiful times in Ohio. It is time for apple cider at farmstands along the roadside, U-pick apples, Pumpkins offered at “all you can carry” prices, and little festivals to celebrate it all.

Look for decorative Indian corn, gourds of all sizes, types and shapes. Fine weather and fun activities fill the days before the frosts blacken our gardens, warning that this truly is the end of our growing season.

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” ~Keats

Chores For October

Most trees and shrubs will put down good root systems if planted now. *Remember to trim back broken branches or top heavy plants.*Prepare storage for your summer bulbs. Once foliage has died down, lift bulbs and store in a cool dry, frost free place.*Keep harvested seeds in a cool dry place
Plant the nursery grown chrysanthemums for instant fall color*Lots of tomatoes to ripen? If they are not too green, lay them out ( not touching) on newspaper in a cool dry place. I use my basement. They slowly ripen and I have fruits long after the outdoors plants are gone.*Keep your vegetable garden harvested and the new plantings thinned for optimum growth.
*Prime time to plant your tulips and daffodils. Those you want to force for winter bloom go into refrigeration for a bit (6-8 weeks)*Use slow acting fertilizers like bone meal for fall feeding.First frost dates fall in this month for Ohio and other states in proximity.
Plant seeds that will overwinter in your area. Try some of the “hardy” annuals.Clean and oil tools for winter storage.Use root storage bin for potatoes, etc.

Fall GourdsIt is time to start dismantling the garden:

  • Disconnect hoses and roll them up, store them away for winter.
  • Cover outside furniture or store it
  • Store clay pots in sheltered area, they will freeze and break when left out in the weather.

For the ambitious, this is still a time of garden projects. Our family put in a firepit to enjoy on chilly evenings, and that is a project that you might also want to include into your yard.

I have grown children and we all pitched in to make it a fast and simple job: removing some sod, making a base of sand, laying in a square space of pavers, and “voila!” our firepit set on it and surrounded by chairs makes a cozy spot to have conversations and maybe roast a few marshmallows for a sweet treat. You might like to read more detailed info on the firepit project, for resources to help you make your own.

A feature like an arbor, raised beds, a new path, or any that improves the hardscaping of your garden gives pleasure through out the bleak winter months when

Zone 5 Gardening

Perennial Flowers

If ever a perennial flower ruled the bloom season of a certain month, then Chrysanthemums reign over October. You see them everywhere with their beautiful range of colors- from bold to bright to softly pastel. Once they do finally succumb to hard frost, leave their stems to provide cover and they might reappear next year.

While there are many types of these beautiful flower (think of “football” mums), I think the cushion mums are the easiest and most satisfactory for home owners to plant in their yards.

Many of us are spontaneously influenced by the nursery displays of fall mums, but if we gave it a little foresight and planning, these plants are best put into the ground earlier in the season and the plants will cost less. They grow just as big and floriferous with good care consisting of watering on time and feeding, with a bit of pinching of the buds (just until mid July). Make a note in your plans for next years garden.

pot marigold

Calendula officinalis

Annual Flowers

Annuals are pretty much over, except for persistent Calendulas, it is time to dispose of the dead plants, since most of them are done in by frosts. Clear them away and compost them.

October Sights

What’s Blooming

(This Month)

  • Chrysanthemums
  • Calendulas
  • Sedum
  • Statice

October Garden Chores:

Harvest the remainder of your vegetables if frost warnings are given, or at least put on frost covers (old sheet will do)
Finish up planting- winter is coming, be sure of that, and you want to have your plants in the ground growing their roots and you inside enjoying a cup of warm coffee.
Put away outdoor furnishings or cover them.

Warnings To Keep In Mind

Be prepared for winter snows and use sand or a plant friendly de-icer for slippery side walks.

General Maintenance

Dividing shrubs can be done now. If you prune or disturb spring flowering shrubs, you will lose this year’s bloom, but you can determine if it is necessary or not.
You can clear out perennials topgrowth, or leave to shelter the plant during the winter months. The determining factors?

  • Take out those stems and debris that look messy and broken down.
  • Remove any diseased leaves and stems.
  • Leave tops on plants that need extra protection (like chrysanthemums).

October is ideal for planting bulbs. There is still time to put in your shrubs and trees.

October Resource Links


Vegetable Garden Tips

This post is short, sorry… look for more extensive tips and chores to remember in the October page of the Garden Calendar.

I hope you enjoyed the fine weather that most of October granted us, and that your gardens are close to ready for the coming cold, winds, and blustery snow squalls that will be coming all too soon. Here at my house we always seem behind with too many projects to humanly accomplish.

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author


I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of "Ilona's Reflecting Pool". Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. The work on "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.