Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Let Plants Slide toward Dormancy; the Cooling Cycle in October Cues Them to Prepare for Winter

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Let Plants Slide toward Dormancy; the Cooling Cycle in October Cues Them to Prepare for Winter

Article excerpt

Byline: RAYMOND H. ZERBA JR

October starts the cooling cycle that will bring us into winter. Plants are putting on their last growth spurt of the year in preparation for winter. We should do nothing to over-stimulate them at this time; just let them continue to slide toward dormancy.

ACTIVITIES THIS MONTH

-- Turf grass specialists at the University of Florida tell us it's too late now to apply any fertilizer to the lawn. If you haven't fertilized by this time, then wait until next spring. They also advise that by mid-October we should put off setting out plugs or sod until spring. The risk is too great that there won't be enough time for them to establish before the first cold spell.

-- Continue to mow grass, even though its growth is slowed. Determine how often to mow by watching the blade length. When it reaches a height where the mower will remove 1/3 with the cut, it's time to mow. Removing more will seriously weaken the grass.

-- Leaves and needles will fall in earnest now. Instead of chopping them up with the mower, rake them up and use them as mulch around shrubbery and in the fall garden. October is usually windy, so the lawn is often strewn with small branches and pine cones. While the temptation is there to just run over these and chop them up, don't do it. Besides the possibility that the mower could sling these and cause injury, these materials are slow to rot and are not good to have placed back on the lawn. Before mowing, go around and pick up all the twigs and pine cones.

-- This has been a bad year for lawn caterpillars, which may still be active this month. If you see small brown moths fly up as you mow, you also have caterpillars. These moths are there to lay eggs. While we have no chemical sprays that will kill the moth, we have several that will kill the caterpillar. Go to your local garden center and see what they have on their shelves. …

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