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Maintaining Your New California Garden: Life-friendly Fall Pruning

  Mother Nature's Backyard in November: illustrating life-friendly fall pruning. Late fall and early winter are important prun...

Your Gardening Calendar - October


October in the Southern California Garden
Each month has its special joys and tasks in the garden.  Below is a suggested calendar for October.  Remember that gardening depends on the weather, so tasks, bloom season and activities may vary from year to year.
Best of Show:
§  Flowers: Baccharis emoryi, Baccharis pilularis, Ceanothus spp., Brickellia californica, Diplacus spp. (on coast), Epilobium canum, Salvia clevelandii, Verbena lilacena
§  Fruits/seeds/berries: Eriogonum species, Heteromeles arbutifolia, Rosa spp., Shepherdia argentea, Symphoricarpos spp., Vitus spp.
§  Foliage:  tan/brown foliage of local native grasses & shrubs; Anemopsis californica; Populus and Salix species
§  Purchase plants from native plant nurseries/sales; place in semi-shade and water regularly until planted out.
§  Consider adding some decorative and educational signs to your garden; explore your options – purchase/create, then install after pruning
§  Finish installing any hardscape: fences, paths, patios
§  Re-apply mulch after pruning
§  From seed: cool-season grass plugs; annual wildflowers, bulb seeds in nursery containers; winter veggie crops
§  Start chilling seeds w/ shorter (1-2 month) pre-plant stratification period; check for roots every 2 weeks – plant in nursery containers when first roots emerge
§   Plant out cool-season vegetables from starts/pony-packs or from seed
Watering: prepare for the rainy season
§  Taper off watering all but Zone 2-3 & 3 plants.  Keep vegetable gardens, containers & other Zone 3 plants watered – particularly if Santa Anna winds are predicted
§  Once rains saturate the soil you can turn off your irrigation system (if you have one); check soils periodically during hot, windy, dry weather and water as needed
§  Install/repair/clean rainwater collection/infiltration system (if not done in Sept.)
§  Set out/clean rain gauge
Pruning: major pruning month, particularly for Water Zone 1 and Zone 1-2 plants
§  Prune to shape/thin:
§  Ribes spp.
§  Most summer-dry shrubs (particularly Coastal Sage Scrub and Coastal Shrubland species)
§  Hedge-shear – often the best time for mature plants
§  Divide native bulbs/corms; store or replant (better)
§  Remove old leaves, dead stems, tidy up perennials, groundcovers and ornamental grasses
§  Usually not much weeding to do; but keep on top of any weeds, weedy grasses that may appear.
§  Good time to work on removing patches of Bermuda & Kikuyu grasses, which are slowing down now
§  Gophers may be getting desperate; consider options
§  Dry aromatic prunings for seasoning/tea/potpourri
§  Save artistic-looking materials for fall/winter decorations, flower arrangements, etc.
§  Dye some yarn with prunings; or dry the dye-stuff for later
§  Carve a pumpkin – or make a pie
Enjoying the garden:
§  Go to the native plant sales; see what’s new, ask questions
§  Visit a new-to-you native plant garden; take your camera and notebook to jot down ideas.
§  Enjoy the play of tans, browns and grays – a subtle sophisticated color palette




  1. I really like your calender of what to do. It is very helpful and fitting for our climate. Beautiful pictures and a great resource!

  2. I like your Gardening Calendar, this information has important reference value for me.