Coastal and Tropical South
Care for Shrubs
Vigorous shrubs and small trees can be pruned lightly now. By tipping the new growth of young shrubs and removing errant young limbs from trees, you create a pleasing form for them to follow. Take a few inches off the top of evergreen photinia and cleyera, and clip the old flowers off of trees. Hydrangeas benefit from deadheading and shaping all around. Don't touch hollies, azaleas, or camellias now. Their blooms are setting for next year.
Harvest Merliton and Luffa
Two of our favorite big vine crops are approaching maturity. Even though the fruits are set, keep the water and fertilizer coming. Consider spraying fertilizer on the leaves if the soil is very wet. Merliton is ready to pick when the stem begins to shrivel. They don't store as well as onions, but can be refrigerated for several weeks or cut, blanched, and frozen for soups and stews. Luffa gourds will begin to dry on the vine, but should be stored out of direct sunlight until you hear the seeds rattle when you shake them. Remove the skin and clean them to use for spa sponges
Care for Hibiscus
The glory that is glossy leaf hibiscus can get a bit ragged this time of year. Plants may be overgrown, have a few bugs, or even stop blooming. Cut them back by about one third right now, fertilize with a flower formula, and watch for new leaves now and flowers by November. If whitefly or other piercing and sucking insects are present, spray thoroughly with neem now and again in 7 days.
Sow Salad Greens
Transplant new lettuce and mesclun mix plants and sow another round of lettuce seeds now. By staggering the planting times over several weeks, you're sure to have fresh plants all winter. Pick a spot in the flowerbed or vegetable row that isn't in full sun. Work the soil well and rake very smooth, then sow seed on top. Press in, but don't cover. Use a floating row cover for best results. Sow a few pots of lettuce or mesclun, too, for clever holiday gifts.
Citrus trees everywhere need their final fertilizing of the season now. Trees in fruit, such as satsuma and lemon, may only need a compost blanket to keep their leaves green as ripening proceeds. In the tropics, give citrus and shrubs a complete fertilizer formula now, but on the southern coasts, shrubs and trees need no nitrogen this month.