September 22 was the first day of autumn, and the time has come to prepare for fall landscaping tasks. Plant cool-weather annuals, bulbs, perennials, and vegetables; adjust your irrigation system, and implement turfgrass maintenance and care measures.
While you might not be ready to have a bonfire, wear a scarf, or order a hot spiced latte, the official start to fall has arrived. September 22 was the first day of autumn, and the time has come to prepare for fall landscaping tasks.
In Florida, we transition out of the rainy season during the fall.
We can also transition our garden inhabitants from heat-tolerant plants and flowers to more delicate, cool-weather types. Now is the time to plant your fall vegetable garden, adjust your irrigation system, and implement turfgrass maintenance and care measures.
Update Your Flower Beds
Keep your garden fresh and vibrant by switching out heat-loving flowers for cool-weather annuals and bulbs.
Elephant’s ear, narcissus, calla, and zephyr lily are excellent bulb choices. Consider the annuals below based on your region:
- North Florida: Phlox, Sweet Pea, Snapdragon, and Impatiens
- Central Florida: Ageratum, Alyssum, Baby’s Breath, Celosia, Cleome, Coleus, Gazania, Globe Amaranth, Impatiens, Marigold, Periwinkle, Scarlet Sage, Sunflower, Torenia, Verbena, Wax Begonia, and Zinnia
- South Florida: Amaranthus, Asters, Baby’s Breath, Celosia, Coleus, Globe Amaranth, Impatiens, Marigold, Nicotiana, Periwinkle, Phlox, Scarlet Sage, Torenia, Verbena, and Zinnia
Don’t forget, now is the time to tend to your perennials. Separate and replant them now so that they have plenty of time to reestablish before a frost or freeze.
Plant Cool Weather Vegetables – and Strawberries!
Swap out your sweet potatoes, okra, and other warm-weather veggies for a fall selection of broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and collards.
- Clear any leftover roots and plant parts from your summer garden
- Test the soil pH and make any amendments necessary
- Till the soil
- Add plenty of organic matter to the earth
This month you can also plant strawberries! It’s best to purchase transplants (baby plants) from your local nursery. Plant them 10 to 18 inches apart in rich soil, and make sure to water them often and fertilize them regularly.
As the season transitions from daily rains to drier weather, the watering needs of your lawn and garden also transition. Turn your irrigation system on again. You may choose to turn it on as needed if you’re still receiving late summer rains. As the showers taper off, set a regular watering schedule. As always, pay attention to the weather and check the soil for dryness.
For many counties in Florida, September is the last month of the fertilizer ban, in place to prevent runoff and water pollution. October is an excellent time to apply a “16-4-8” mixture of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to turfgrass to encourage a thriving, healthy lawn. Of course, check fertilizer ordinances for your county or municipality before application.
Once nighttime temperatures reach 55-60 degrees for four or five days, apply a preemergent herbicide to prevent winter weeds from appearing.
Since the Florida fall is still warm, homeowners should maintain vigilance in watching for signs of turfgrass pests. If you notice damage from sod webworms, mole crickets, chinch bugs, or fall armyworms, call your landscaping company right away to treat the issue.