September Tips for the Garden

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

September Tips for the Garden
By Joy Caron

Autumnal equinox on September 22 marks the beginning of fall.  You can set out cool-weather annuals and vegetables, buy bulbs, and plant trees and shrubs.  Cleaning up summer gardens, preparing autumn gardens, and planning for next spring will keep you quite busy. 

If you haven’t been keeping a journal, now is the time to jot down notes on how your plants performed this year.  Take the time to jot down your observations.  How much sunlight are the flowerbeds getting?  Did the plants seem happy and bloom well in their present location?  Were the colors complimentary to your house or did they create visual chaos?  These notes will help guide your plant choices next year.

· September is the month to start germinating seed of plants that love cool weather.  Our most popular annuals are pansies, snapdragons and ornamental cabbage.
· Biennial flowers, such as foxglove, hollyhock, and money plant, when set out mid-autumn, will bloom the following spring.
· Add well-rotted manure and organic humus to your flowerbeds.
· Good fall flowers include mums, asters, anemones, salvias, sages, and sedums.
· Dig up and divide clumps of irises, daylilies, phlox, and daisies.  Set divided plants back into soil at their original growing depths, water well, and mulch.  Give extras to friends and neighbors.
· Save plants such as geraniums, coleus, wax begonias, impatiens, or fuchsia for indoor growing over winter.  Dig plants, cut back about halfway, or take cuttings of shoot tips.
· Also dig and repot herbs or take cuttings for winter growing indoors.
· Continue to deadhead annuals, perennials and roses for a few more blooms.
· Time for a last light trim on most hedges – just enough to tidy.  Don’t cut spring-flowering shrubs now; you will remove flower buds for next year.
· Keep treating roses, lilacs and phlox for powdery mildew.
· Aerate, de-thatch and fertilize cool-season grasses when summer heat begins to subside.
· Reseed bare spots or new lawns with a good quality seed mixture.  Mix with sand for easy distribution and root support.
· Early fall is a good time to apply broadleaf weed killers.  Be sure to follow all label directions, and choose a calm day to prevent spray drift.
· Clean up fallen fruits, twigs, and leaves around fruit trees to reduce disease and insect carry-over.
· Pick up dead limbs and mow more often under your pecan trees.  This will make picking up the nuts much easier.
· Remove broken, dead or pest damaged branches in trees and shrubs so they don’t act as projectiles during heavy winds (i.e., hurricanes!)
· September is also a good month to book a landscape design or installation company, if you’re unable to do the work yourself.  You need to get on their schedule for October work.