Peonies and Tree Peonies should be planted at least a month before the first frost.
Evergreen trees and shrubs can be planted or transplanted. Wait for leaf fall before planting or transplanting deciduous trees and shrubs. For broad leaf evergreens, such as magnolia, and holly, springtime planting is best.
You can plant or transplant perennials and ornamental grasses and Japanese and Siberian iris.
Lily bulbs can be planted in October when they arrive if the ground is not too wet.
Daffodils can be planted by mid-October.
Divide and transplant overgrown perennials but mid-October.
Boxwood can be planted and transplanted in October.
Pruning and Cleaning Up
Fall Garden Not so Clean Up: Most current Landscape Architects and Garden Designers encourage leaving as much spent material standing as possible throughout the winter months to provide cover and food sources for over-wintering insect and bird populations. Try to train your eye to see the architectural beauty of skeletal forms of tall perennials like echinacea and rudbeckia, and leave their seed heads intact for nuthatches, finches and mockingbirds to survive the winter months. Commercial seed is too limited and nutritionally empty to support them through the winter. So you’re not being lazy - you are doing a very important good to provide essential species survival!
You can prune and clip hedges, keeping the base of the hedge wider than the top. This year's wet weather has been rough on all plants. Extra care and time spent on healthy pruning can help your plants. Avoid topping trees, shearing shrubs, and leaving stubs or dual leaders.
Lilies and phlox can be cut to ground level in the fall. Do not compost plant material that is moldy or full of mildew.
Fertilize and Mulch
Fertilize only as needed. The wet weather has stimulated growth for many plants.
Pine needles make great mulch, especially for acid-loving plants.
Deadhead plants as needed. Trim brown foliage and compost if the material shows no signs of mildew or mold.
Prepare new beds for fall and spring planting.
Prepare beds for lily bulbs - good drainage is important. Lilies need at least 1/2 day of sun so pick a spot that is well drained and provides the right amount of light.
As the weather gets frosty, bring houseplants inside and winterize fish ponds.
Prepare greenhouses or cold frames for winter use.
Tip for Every month:
Keep your tools clean. Clean your tools after every use. Take care of your hoses and watering cans.
Wear gloves. Use gloves for all of your gardening chores. Gloves will keep your skin out of direct contact with toxic plant substances. Remember, when handling peat moss you can avoid a serious fungal infection (sporotrichosis - also called 'rose gardener's disease') if you wear gloves.
Please Beware of Giant Hogweed. Giant Hogweed is in our area (Fredericksburg) It is a member of the wild carrot family native to Asia and can reach heights of 6-10 feet. It looks like a giant Queen Anne's Lace as it grows. It is highly toxic! Do NOT touch, pull, brush against, or weed-whack this plant. Do NOT handle this plant. Do NOT try to remove this plant yourself. Direct contact with this plant sensitizes the skin to the sun and leaves 3rd degree burns. If you see or suspect Giant Hogweed take digital photos of the leaf, stem, and flower and contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office. (photo Robert Videki, Doronicum Kft.)