Garden Calendar for October 2023

October is cooling off, and that’s a good thing because there are many many garden tasks you shouldsoule-books-buy get to this month across the Southwest. Yes, even in the Upper Elevations. I don’t have room for the tasks all in a blog post. I did write an entire book on yearly garden care and October was the fattest month.

About the cover photo – butterflies are very active in autumn.  Hope you have lots of nice pollinator plants for them.

Plants are Thirsty

We had spotty rain across the region in September. It was not near enough to make up for the hot summer. Virtually everything will need some irrigation this month. Yes, even fruit trees and other deciduous trees that are about to go winter dormant (like desert willow). Some water in at least the first half of this month will help them have the resources they need to store energy for the winter.

About Irrigation

Many water providers in our region set your “base water and sewer rate” on water use in the winter months. If you plan ahead you can minimize your winter irrigation needs and can save as much as 20 dollars a month. I don’t know about you, but if I found a $20 bill laying on the street, I’d sure take the time to pick it up. Think about 12 X 20!

So yes, it is worth learning how to deal with your irrigation control box. And yes, it is a good idea to reset your irrigation times on a quarterly basis. And yep, it sure is worth it to do your irrigation check ups on a monthly basis – or at quarterly at the very least. Sadly, the hackers destroyed that whole series I had done, but I will rewrite and replace soon. I have created videos about the topic and they are on my Gardening With Soule Membership site.

October Planting

All southwest regions warmer than USDA Zone 7A – early October is ideal for planting trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, bulbs, ground covers, wildflowers, herbs, vegetables,,,, in short, everything!    Go forth and plant!    With a little work now, your yard will bloom all winter long.

A clump of daffodils at my old home in Tucson.


Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils are great to plant in October across our region.  You can buy some beautiful bulbs at a reasonable rate and help the Arizona-based Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute at no additional cost to you!

Help A Local Non-Profit at no Additional Cost to You

If you order your daffodils from Brent & Becky’s Bulbs “Blooming Bucks” you can help the local Southwestern Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute – at no additional cost to you! Here is the link – to Brent & Becky’s – just scroll down this “Bloomin’ Bucks” link to select the organization and click on the Tierra del Sol Institute name.  After that it will take you on to their website. Then, when you order, Brent & Becky’s will donate to Tierra del Sol.  And thank you!

Plant seasonal color = flowers.    Plant the colorful plants as seeds, seedlings, or bulbs.   Calendula – in the picture above, as well as pansy, nasturtium, and snapdragon like our cooler months.  Hackers got it but it will be back up later this month.

Plant cool-season vegetables. The cool-season things are all the green leafy things and the root crops.  (Yes, I wrote a nationally published book on the topic. And the revised edition too. See below.)

Plant cool season herbs – those in the carrot family! Carrot family herbs include cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley, cumin, caraway.

Sow wildflower seeds for spring display if you haven’t yet – more about winter wildflowers here.

UDSA Zone 7A and cooler, wait until (mostly) spring. You could still sow wildflower seeds, and bulbs too – right up until the ground is frozen.

The principles of xeriscaping – low-water landscaping – say it’s okay to have a lawn if you care for it properly.

October Lawn Care

Upper Elevations. One last deep soak will help your lawn do a little more photosynthesis and store a little more energy for winter. If it is shaggy, one last mow too, but try to live with some shaggyness as it is healthier for your lawn.

Middle Desert. If you did not apply fall fertilizer yet, do it before October 15. After October 15, dethatch then overseed Bermudagrass lawns for winter green.

Low Desert. Fertilize lawns this month. Dethatch then overseed Bermudagrass lawns next month.


October General Care

Treat alkaline-induced-iron-chlorotic roses and citrus by acidifying the soil with a nice layer of compost. Mulch too. Just not against the stems.  This will help them resist cold in case we have a cold snap this winter. We did have some snow in Middle Desert in 2022.

Catch and remove the winter weeds as they germinate.

Harvest pomegranates.    They store well for over three months in a refrigerator.

Some varieties of pomegranate do not turn red when ripe.

About Harvesting Pomegranate

I have nagged you not to cut the fruits off your citrus, apples, peaches, etc.     I have remarked that “Mama” tree will let these fruits fall into your hand with a gentle tug when they are ripe.    All of this is true.

Note – pomegranate fruits are not on this list!    Pomegranates need to be cut off the tree!    Cut one and try it, if it’s sweet and juicy then do harvest the rest before the birds and packrats and rock squirrels and raccoons get them. And yes, all of those marauders have been filmed eating my fruits! Posted some of those video clips on my TikTok channel.

Stay tuned. The topic of oak trees from last week will be continued next week.

About Your Southwest Yard & Garden

On advice of a business manager – I was told to more actively sell my “products.”   I responded, “Start blowing my own horn more?!  I’m a gardener and a writer, not a sales agent!” but here goes:

As well as writing about plants, I offer classes online and in person.  Then there is the fun and informative Membership site the Gardening With Soule Membership Club. There are many wonderful features to the Club site – in-depth detail on topics (more than mere blog posts) – specific plant profiles – care videos – monthly live Q & A sessions, and much more.

Why do I do all this writing and teaching?

So that you will succeed with your gardening goals, and enjoy gardening here as much as I do.

How to take care of your oaks:

soule-books-buyOne reviewer said:

“A great reference book is key to successful gardening in the region where you live. Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico Month-by-Month Gardening takes the guesswork out of gardening for anyone residing in the Southwest. With this book, you’ll know what to do each month to enjoy a thriving garden all year, from January to December. Chronologically organized, this guide is full of critical gardening when-to and how-to advice, along with illustrated step-by-step instructions.

The book’s author is Jacqueline Soule, a Tucson-based gardening expert. She knows this arid region inside and out, and she’s written several articles and books packed with her gardening advice. Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico Month-by-Month Gardening showcases Soule’s expertise in one easy-to-read guide.”

This book (and others) are available on my book selling site.  Buy the book there, and the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies – at no extra cost to you.


© Article copyright Dr. Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit. You must include a link to the original post on my site. No stealing photos.

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