research-based, eco-friendly information
Master Gardeners of Orange County, NC


Bloom · Berry

Below is a simple ‘shortlist’ of plants that are normally in bloom this month or are of interest for fruit, bark or foliage. See Bloom • Berry for comprehensive lists with links to photos and cultural information.

Perennials Shrubs Trees
Beautyberry (frt)
Hollies (frt)
Nandina (frt)
Pyracantha (frt)
Washington hawthorn (frt)
Success with Pansies in the Winter Landscape



  • Keep tree leaves from collecting on your lawn.
  • It is very important that tall fescue be maintained at the proper mowing height to allow it to mature before winter and to minimize weed incidence. A 3.5” mowing height provides the best growth condition while minimizing disease incidence and weed encroachment.
  • Turfgrass science: Controlling Winter Annual Broadleaf Weeds


Fall armyworms are a problem this year. Newly-installed or renovated lawns are especially susceptible and may not recover. To be effective, treatment needs to be applied before damage is visible, so weekly scouting is recommended.


Fall is the true growing season for cool-season lawns, so it is the best time to renovate and seed. Cool-season lawns seeded in the spring don’t last through the summer because their roots don’t have a chance to grow deep into the soil before hot weather arrives.

  • You can still seed fescue and bluegrass early in October. The turf files website has an excellent tool to help you select the right type of grass for your situation. Germination normally occurs in 10–21 days.
  • Before seeding, aerate (core) your lawn to reduce soil compaction and control heavy weed populations.


Bermudagrass lawn maintenance calendar NC CES: AG-431
Tall fescue lawn maintenance calendar NC CES: AG-367
LAWNS our page

Ornamental plants


Rake up debris around and under rose bushes — blackspot can overwinter in fallen leaves and appear again next spring.

Plant, divide, transplant

  • Divide spring- and summer-blooming perennials. Because plants put enormous energy into blooms, most fall-blooming perennials, including many ornamental grasses, are better divided in spring.
  • Plant and transplant most perennials, shrubs and trees. There are exceptions:
    • Many of the newer hybrid echinaceas are tap-rooted and require a full growing season to develop a good root system. These prefer spring planting, as do warm-season ornamental grasses and some tender perennials.
    • Some fleshy-rooted trees and shrubs like magnolias and camellias prefer spring planting.
  • This is the best time of year to move plants, but dry soil is often a problem — historically, October is our dryest month unless a hurricane brings rain. If possible, delay moving plants until November or later when water can be more plentiful. If transplanting in dry weather, water the soil thoroughly first to make digging easier, and water the plant regularly in the new location. Adding bonemeal &/or vitamin B12 to stimulate root production and decrease transplant shock is not necessary:
    The Myth of Beneficial Bone Meal
    The Myth of Vitamin Stimulants
  • Root-prune any woody plants that you plan to move next spring.


Focus on cool season weeds such as annual bluegrass, chickweed, and henbit and managing vines such as trumpet creeper and blackberry. Treat perennial weeds such as mock strawberry (Duchesnea indica, an invasive alien — please distinguish this from our native barren strawberries, Waldsteinia sp.) and wild garlic with a broadleaf herbicide when temperatures are above 50°F.
Winter annual weeds
Now is the time to stop winter weeds



  • Dig sweet potatoes before frost kills the plants.
  • Dig and divide rhubarb.


Insect control can be a challenge on fall-grown cabbage-family crops. Some of the best controls are organic. For aphids, strong water sprays or insecticidal soap works well. Don’t miss the lower leaf surfaces. For cabbage worms and other caterpillars, pick them off or use weekly applications of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).


Plant a cover crop in your vegetable garden. Legumes, such as clover and alfalfa, will enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen. Cover crops also prevent erosion and can be turned over into the soil to provide needed organic matter. If you have not or do not plan to plant a cover crop, you can till organic material like tree leaves into your vegetable garden soil.


You can start salad vegetables in a cold frame and enjoy them all winter. Plant lettuce, green onions, carrots, radishes, and most leafy greens inside the cold frame.

Wildlife & insects


October is ladybug season. These beneficial insects sometimes gather in large groups and choose your house as a warm spot to spend the winter. If they are finding their way inside, check the condition of weather stripping and caulking around windows, doors, ceiling light fixtures and other possible entryways.

Kudzu bugs

Kudzu bugs also try to winter indoors. Fortunately, numbers are much lower this year due to our cold snap last winter and to the appearance of their natural enemy, a parasitic wasp, in the Southeast.


  • Although most hummingbirds are heading south, you might want to leave feeders out for late travelers and the occasional rufus hummingbird.
  • Most birds select their winter feeding stations by October. If you put out seed or suet only in the winter months, now is the time.

Landscape idea

Use shredded leaves as mulch. While fallen leaves contain nutrients, they decompose slowly. Grinding the leaves both speeds decomposition and ensures that they don’t mat and create an impenetrable barrier once wet. Don’t have a shredder? Rake the leaves into rows and run over them with a mower.

2007   2009 JCRAJC Raulston Arboretum fall photo tours
Autumn in the Arboretum JCRA
The Science of Color in Autumn Leaves USNA


Check your houseplants for insects before bringing them indoors. A few insects on plants outside can easily turn into a problem inside. Wash leaves thoroughly and soak the soil in a bucket of water for 3–5 minutes to encourage any insects hiding in the soil to come out.

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plant sale

Deer-resistant plants

9/28 – 10/19, plant distribution 11/1

Order Form
Plant Photos
Perennials Factsheets
Woody Factsheets
Map of Plant Pickup Locations
best printed on legal paper with printer set to "Actual size"
best printed on legal paper with printer set to "Actual size"

We are mainly self-funded and many of the supplies for our projects are generously donated by area businesses. However, we do need to purchase some items. Rather than raising our course fee, we are holding a pre-order plant sale.

how plants were selected

The plants offered in this sale were chosen for their resistance to deer browsing. There are 18 choices covering needs for almost any garden site. All should provide many years of enjoyment. Please read the plant factsheets to determine whether a particular plant will suit your garden. Clicking on the botanical name in the order form takes you to the associated factsheet.

  • Initial consideration was restricted to plants listed as "rarely damaged" by several state Cooperative Extensions.
  • Because browsing preferences are always local, we excluded any plants on these lists that had experienced browsing in a selection committee member's garden.
  • Next, we excluded plants with invasive potential.
  • We also removed plants that are difficult to grow, overly expensive, high-maintenance, or with limited ornamental appeal.
Living with deer

Deer, Oh Deer
Deer-resistant Plants
Reducing Deer Damage to Home Gardens and Landscape Plantings
Managing Deer Damage in Maryland
An Overview and Cost Analysis of Deer Repellents for Homeowners and Landowners

fall planting

Fall is for Planting
Planting Techniques for Trees and Shrubs
How to plant trees & shrubs in the Southeast

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Lawn · Garden Moisture Index

Colors indicate inches of precipitation deficit/excess with a resolution of 4km.
Alabama State Climatologist Lawn/garden moisture index

This live feed maps the difference between recent garden-effective precipitation and the amount normally adequate for the time of year. Soil water-holding capacity is not considered, but the index still provides a good idea of current soil moisture.

Check drought conditions
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919 · 245 · 2061