September is a Busy Month for Gardeners!

September is a busy month for gardeners. Here is a checklist of things to do.

Avoid spraying plants where
butterfly caterpillars are
Walk around the garden with pruners and insecticidal soap in hand. Check for insects and diseases, taking care of things as you see them.

Watch for butterfly caterpillars and avoid spraying insecticide on plants where they are feeding.

Collect seeds of butterfly weed, zinnias, vining black-eyed Susan, marigold, morning glory, 4-O’Clocks, peppers, tomatoes, coriander, basil, coreopsis, Rudbeckias, sunflowers, rue, etc.

Harvest herbs to dry, freeze and make into products.

Pick fall fruit in the evening to avoid insects such as wasps.

Identify perennials to divide when the weather cools, including: Daylilies, Asiatic lilies, peony, tall garden phlox, iris, lily of the valley, dahlias, ornamental grass, etc.

Take stem cuttings of tender plants that you want to put out again next year. This list includes coleus, lavender, rhododendron, azalea, sedum, verbena, grapes, etc.

You can take root cuttings now, plant in containers, and put out next spring. Try Sumac, St. John’s-wort, trumpet vine, blackberry, mock orange, snowball bush and figs.

Deadhead roses. Prune climbing, rambling and weeping roses. Do not fertilize but watch for insects and hand pick small infestations. This is also a good time to take cuttings of your favorite roses to increase your holdings next spring.

Divide Iris corms, check for diseases, prune the tops to 3 inches, allow the corms to sun-dry a few days, and re-plant.

Start collecting pots of  tender perennials you want to overwinter. Stand the containers in water to force out the insects that are nesting in the bottom holes. Prune lightly and spray with insecticidal soap to get them ready to move inside.

Prune dead and diseased twigs, branches on trees, shrubs and woody perennials. Leave standing, the tall but spent native flowers such as Joe Pye Weed, butterfly bush, coneflowers, etc.  Butterflies spend the winter in their shelter as mature insects, caterpillars and chrysalis.

Leave seed-heads on most of the native flowers so small birds can use them as winter food.

Collect flower heads for drying (yarrow, strawflower, cockscomb, etc.)

Begin to clean out and divide pond plants.

Sow rye grass and fescue seed over Bermuda to maintain winter color. Fertilize lawn areas with a high-nitrogen product.

Trees and shrubs that look stressed can be given a half dose of fertilizer.

Cool weather vegetables should be in the ground now or very soon. These include chard, kale, peas, turnips, mustard, spinach, beets, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, potato sets, onions and radish.

Continue to water seedlings despite the cooler nights. Consider mulching between rows to help the 
soil retain moisture and encourage earth worms to work the soil for you.

To restore bare spots in the vegetable and herb garden, sow seeds of clover, rye, buckwheat or cow peas as winter cover crops. Just clear the area, rake and plant. Keep moist until the seedlings emerge.

Rake aside the used mulch and leaves for the compost pile or along the back fence and re-apply mulch at least 6 inches away from tree trunks and shrub branches.

Use acidic mulches for azaleas, evergreens, rhododendrons, gardenias, hydrangeas, creeping phlox, lily of the valley, heather, alyssum, Japanese maples, laurels, hollies, magnolias, blueberries, strawberries, and other acid-loving plants. Pecan shells, shredded cypress, pine needles and pine bark all help maintain acidity.

Container grown perennials need to be mulched to protect their roots from drying and freezing so if you have trees and shrubs in containers, remove the old mulch and put two inches of fresh on the top, avoiding the plants’ trunks and lower branches.

Next spring begins now with picking up or ordering fall planted flower bulbs and garlic.


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