Spring is the season for flowers, so make sure your blooms are getting the best possible treatment. Here’s your October gardening checklist
Tick these garden tasks off your list this October
+ Feed your roses and check out new varieties in garden centres, or older types in your neighbour’s garden to add to your own garden next winter. Deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowers on repeat-flowering varieties. If you cut just above a leaf with 5 leaflets you should get a new flower appearing within a few weeks.
+ Feed spring bulbs such as daffodil and narcissus and don’t chop off their leaves after blooms fade as this sets them up for next year’s flowering. Feeding your garden plants and lawns is a good idea in early spring as their reserves are low and they need plenty of food to put on new growth.
+ Keep frost cloth and cloches handy in frost-prone areas as October can be tricky weather-wise. Slugs and snails are about in huge numbers at this time of year, so keep an eye out. Offer the kids bribes to collect as many as they can after a rainstorm.
+ If you have a sunny spot with well-drained soil and love colourful flowers, bearded irises are for you. These can be planted in most places, spaced about 30cm apart with the tops of rhizomes just above the surface of the soil. Once established, feed lightly with a low-nitrogen complete fertiliser for plenty of flowers in late spring or early summer. Add compost regularly to soil but avoid animal manure as it can rot the rhizomes. Irises will flower best if rhizomes are dug up and divided every 3 years in late summer or early autumn. Discard dead and diseased sections of rhizomes.
+ Repot orchids after flowering is over using a proprietary potting mix designed for those that grow naturally in bark debris and leaf litter. Make sure drainage is good – crocks (broken terracotta) at the bottom will help. Crucifix orchids are the easiest to grow and flower for months in warmer climates.
+ What is spring without the gorgeous blooms of magnolia, flowering cherries, crab apple or michelia? If you’re a fan of spring blossoms, it’s not too late to plant one of these. There are varieties to suit gardens of every size and some will even grow in pots. Choose somewhere out of the wind and keep the tree well watered.
Words by: Carol Bucknell.