The Villages Voice - October 2014

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Master Gardener - Fall Planting

by Kathy Porter

Fall Planting October has become one of my favorite months since moving to The Villages more than eleven years ago. Why? Because it’s like a second spring! Cooler nights, nice warm days and lower humidity make it a perfect time to work in the garden and plant a whole array of plants. For bright color through the fall and winter, plant cool season annuals such as petunias, snapdragons, dusty miller, pansies, and ornamental kale and cabbage. There are lots of bulbs that grow in our Zone 9A - so give agapanthus, amaryllis, blackberry lilies, daylilies (loads of varieties and colors), Louisiana iris, and caladiums a try. If you already have these bulbs growing, now is the perfect time to dig up and divide them. And if you have too many to replant, your friends and neighbors will be pleased with an offer of free plants. A growing trend in garden design is “Edible Landscaping.” Consider adding some herbs and vegetables for even more color. Anise, cilantro, chives, dill, fennel, lemon balm and sage will look lovely in the landscape and the addition of these fresh herbs will add a punch of flavor to your dishes. There are a number of veggies that you can plant in and around your garden to delight both your eyes and your taste buds. Most all leafy-type lettuces, mustard greens, spinach, escarole, kale, and carrots are superb producers at this time of the year. Your tomato seedlings should have been planted in September but, if we don’t get an early freeze, you might still enjoy a nice harvest if you get the seedlings in the ground within a day or two. It’s also an excellent time to revitalize your garden by shovel pruning poor performers. Perhaps a failing plant is in the wrong place and would benefit from being transplanted or perhaps it is just not suited for Zone 9A. Replace poor performers with perennials and shrubs that are sure to please including bulbine, plumbago, flax lilies, salvias, gaillardias and asters. Don’t forget to include a rose or two in the plan. Small shrubs such as coontie (a Florida native), rosemary, Indian hawthorne and even blueberries can all be planted at this time. Somewhat larger shrubs, oakleaf hydrangea and beautyberry (both Florida natives), are lovely additions to any garden. Birds adore the purple berries of the beautyberry and eat them all winter. One shrub I particularly like - and it shields my air conditioning unit - is Florida anise, which grows beautifully in shade. And where can you get these plants? Don’t miss the Sumter County Master Gardeners Plant Sale on Saturday, October 11, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wildwood City Hall, 100 N. Main St. (Hwy. 301). We will have a large selection of natives, herbs, perennials, annuals, rain barrels, garden art and much, much more. Also available will be our best-selling book, Gardening in Sumter County Month-by-Month, and the ever-popular Ask the Master Gardener booth. So, if you try to reach me on an October morning, chances are I’ll be out in my garden relishing the second spring. Kathy Porter UF/IFAS Sumter County Master Gardener New phone number: 352-689-6870 New e-mail address: