October is an ideal time to prepare your cool season bedding plants, when the cool weather season arrives, planting colorful bedding plants in your landscape will brighten your yard. In USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11 -- where the temperature during the winter and spring creates a hard freeze -- cool-weather bedding plants are grown in landscapes throughout the winter and early spring months. Plant your bedding plants so the roots are no deeper than when the plant was in the container. The width of the planting hole should be slightly wider. Pat down the soil around the plant to elevate air pockets and ensure good contact between roots and soil. Add mulch over the soil, around the plants, but keep the mulch away from the base of the bedding plants. Mulch will help keep the soil evenly moist, but when it is against the base of cool-weather bedding plants, mulch can create fungus and rot.
Spacing: Leave the appropriate space between plants; most bedding plants are spaced 6 to 8 inches apart. The bed should not look full when it has been planted; the young plants will grow larger and need room to grow. Lay out pots or cell packs of bedding plants to see where they will be planted and how the colors will look.
Irrigation: Water new bedding plants only when the soil begins to dry. Feel the soil before watering to ensure it’s drying out -- cool soil dries more slowly so it doesn't require a regular watering schedule to remain moist.
Fertilization: Granular Fertilizers - for season-long feeding, fertilize at time of planting with a slow-release, granular or capsule-type flower food that will last for the entire season. Some granular fertilizers will slowly release over a 4 to 6 week period of time. These will need to be applied accordingly.
Recommended Plant Varieties: Blooming transplants are available at local nurseries and garden centers now. They are planted in bloom in the fall, and they continue to bloom all through our mild winter with a big crescendo of flowers in March and April. Planted now, in other words, they’ll provide flowers in your gardens for five or six months. Pansy, Dianthus, Alyssum, Viola, Calendula, Ornamental Cabbage, Kale, Petunias, and Snap Dragons. Louisiana Super Plants; Diamonds Blue Delphinium, Shishi Gashira, Camelot Fox glove, Swan Columbine, Amazon Dianthus, Drift Roses, Sorbet Violas, and Frost Proof Gardenias.
For more information, contact the St. Helena or Tangipahoa Extension Service, 305 E Oak St., Amite, call (985) 748-5462, (225) 222-4136, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.