October in the Garden: Add, Multiply & Divide (Conquering not included)

It’s officially Fall in the North State Garden and although in a lot of our region it’s been hard to tell based on the fairly high temperatures over the past few weeks, our gardens know anyway. Nights and mornings are finally cooling – and frost warnings are being issued in the high country. The seasonal temperature notwithstanding, it is the length of daylight that trigger most plant’s seasonal reactions – fall color and seed set are included in those responses. And yet even while many plants look as though they are preparing for decline or dormancy, fall in the garden – and for the gardener – is about multiplication and division. And addition!

Fall is the perfect time for planting new spring and summer blooming bulbs. It’s also perfect for planting trees, shrubs and perennials, which will all benefit from the remainder of fall and all of winter in which to put down roots, while not being asked to put on a lot of foliage, flower or fruit growth until spring. Fall is also the time for making more plants from those you and your fellow gardeners already have. Collect seed to sow now or to sow in the spring. As you look around your garden for seed, look to see if your herbaceaous perennials – those that die back in the fall but regrow from the same plant again next spring – look crowded or even dying out in the center of their clump. These are good signs that these plants might benefit from being divided. In most cases this involves using a good sharp and clean spade to literally cut the plant’s root ball into smaller pieces. You can dig the whole plant up and then divide it, or you can just cut a portion of it right out of the ground. If you dig your original plant up, carefully replant it and water it back in with some root stimulator or compost to give it a boost. You can either plant your new division directly into the ground, or if you want to give it a really good chance of survival (and not forget about it), you can pot the division up into container just a little bigger than it’s root system and water and feed it until you see roots popping out the bottom of the pot letting you know you can safely plant it our into the garden with confidence.


As you get to your fall clean-up and pruning back of things, you can try your hand at rooting some of your cuttings. While you treat hardwood and softwood plants differently, in general you will choose a nice good 4 – 6 inch cutting from your chosen plant, strip all leaves from the bottom 2/3 of the cutting, dip the bottom in rooting hormone and then carefully insert this into a small container of fresh potting soil. Keep watered and protected and wait. You may just have a new plant for very little cost and very little trouble.

This month, lots of workshops, classes and special events are being offered to teach us about these very kinds of gardening techniques and much more.

October 8 – Chico: Chico Horticulture Society Evening Gardeners features a Discussion on Soil Science with Master Gardener Kay Perkins. Chico Library 1108 Sherman Avenue in Chico. More info: Call 530-892-1545.

October 10 – Chico: Butte Rose Society ANNUAL ROSE SHOW at the Newman Center can help you decide what roses you’d like to add to you garden! This year’s Theme: Fallin’ For Roses! 10 am to 4 pm Newman Center 346 Cherry St in downtown Chico. Come and Enter or Just Enjoy hundreds of gorgeous roses on display as specimens, arrangements, photographs and so much more. More info: Call 530-343-9707 or www.butte-rosesociety.org.


October 17 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Gardens, Turtle Bay Garden Photography Workshop: 8 – 11 a.m. Bring your camera and capture the beauty of flowers, the vibrant hues of fall, and the unexpected wildlife found in the garden with award-winning photographer Harvey Spector. Digital or film shutterbugs of all ages and skill levels will receive individualized instruction in this photography skills workshop. Participants provide their own camera. Pre-registration required – Please call 242-3108 to pre-register. Members $8, nonmembers $10. Meet at Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Office – 1135 Arboretum Drive (Next to Greenhouse in Nursery).

October 17 – Redding: Pilgrim Congregational Church 3rd Annual Plant Exchange! 9 am to 12 pm. 122850 Foothill Blvd (near Manzanita School) Do you have excess plants in from your garden due to perennial divisions, etc.? If so – bring them to the exchange and leave them for other gardeners! Are you looking for some new plants to add to your garden this fall? Come to the exchange and look around! You don’t have to bring plants to take plants from the exchange, nor do you have to take plants if you bring plants. The Plant Exchange is a good way to pass along plants and to ‘talk garden’ with others – everything is free. Questions concerning the exchange, call Jim Carr: 530-243-5379. For other info such as parking or directions, call the church: 530- 243-3121.

October 18 – 2 pm The Plant Barn – Dividing Perennials. Bring your own and you will be shown how or they will have examples to show you. This is a dirty fingernail event so bring gloves and your own clippers if you’d like. Be prepared to take divisions home if you’d like.

October 20 – Chico: CSU Chico Arboretum Tree Tours 10 am Meet at Bidwell Mansion (gazebo) 1 -1/2 hour easy stroll, see about 30 of the arboretum’s 220 species each tour; features info on good trees for North State Gardens of all sizes and climates as well as lots of Natural History Information. For More Info contact Leaders:Wes Dempsey 530-342-2293, Gerry Ingco 530-893-5123, or Durbin Sayers 530-898-6222.

October 24 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Gardens, Turtle Bay Ornamental Grasses in the Garden. 10 a.m. – noon. With their variety of form, size and texture, ornamental grasses have earned their place in the garden. Join Turtle Bay Horticulture Manager Lisa Endicott for this informative class covering grasses, rushes, sedges, and restios, followed by a short tour of the many species displayed in the Gardens and also for sale in the Nursery. Members & Turtle Bay volunteers: Free, nonmembers $3. Meet at the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Office at 1135 Arboretum Drive (Next to Greenhouse in Nursery).

More details and many more gardening related events can be found on the Monthly Calendar of Regional Gardening Events. If you have an event you’d like to see posted: send me an email Jennifer @jewellgarden.com.

If you’d like to meet me in person and chat gardening in the North State, October 24 in Redding at the Turtle Bay Gift Shop I will be at an In a North State Garden 2010 Calendar Signing 3:30 – 5 pm.

In Chico, on Monday November 2nd, I will be at an In a North State Garden 2010 Calendar Signing and reception at face salon 6:30 – 8:00 pm 366 Rio Lindo Avenue. Please call 530-342-3223 to RSVP or for more info.

For some good books on Bulbs for our region, Plant Division and Propagation – take a look through some of these. All of my reading recommendations are available in stock (or by special order for the more expensive ones) at Lyon Books in Chico. You can order on-line and they are happy to ship. You can always try our wonderful public libraries for these books as well:

The Complete Practical Handbook of Garden Bulbs: How to Create a Spectacular Flowering Garden Throughout the Year in Lawns, Beds, Borders, Boxes, Containers by Kathy Brown (Southwater Publishing 2009)

Garden Flowers From Seed, by Christopher Lloyd and Graham Rice (Timber Press, 1995)

American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation (1999)

Making More Plants, by Ken Druse (Clarkson Potter, 2000)

In a North State Garden is an outreach program of the Gateway Science Museum – Exploring the Natural History of the North State, based in Chico, CA. In a North State Garden is a weekly radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in California’s North State region. It is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell – all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In A North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio KCHO/KFPR radio, Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time. Podcasts of past shows are available here.

Jennifer Jewell
In a North State Garden is a bi-weekly North State Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California and made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum - Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell - all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday morning at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time, two times a month.
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