With cooler temperatures and rain more likely, September should bring relief to gardens and signal the start of a new season for gardeners in areas that have been too warm for anything but hothouse tropicals. So whether you are beginning the process of putting your garden to bed or gearing up for a fresh start, September can be one of the busiest months in the garden. Let’s just hope the weather cooperates.
Putting the garden to bed simply means getting rid of the mess, cleaning up what’s left, packing away the things you won’t need until spring and making sure everything is ready to go when you need it. Cleaning up debris, scouting for pests and disease and suppressing weeds will mean that much less work to do in the spring, when there are so many other tasks to be done — and all at once. The cooler weather makes fall an ideal season to spend some time in the garden. And you can settle in for winter knowing that when you look out the window, your garden will look contentedly tucked in.
Don’t feel as though you have to do everything. If you’ve had a bad pest or disease problem, I would focus there. If you’ve been meaning to do something about your soil, take advantage of this calm season to get it done. And if you have a lot of tender new plants, you should focus on making sure they are protected. Bite off a little and be amazed by how much you actually get done.
Most perennials can be cut back in the fall, although a few, like chrysanthemums, prefer to remain standing, to act as winter mulch. Wait until a frost has caused the plants to dieback. You don’t want to encourage new growth that will be hit again. Start with plants that were diseased or had a pest problem and dispose of that debris, don’t compost it. Don’t prune woody plants, trees and shrubs until they are dormant.
• Stop pruning and fertilizing.
• Bring summer vacationing houseplants back indoors while the windows are still open. Check carefully for hitchhiking pests.
• Start fall clean-up in the flower beds, cutting back anything that has finished blooming or is diseased.
• Take cuttings to overwinter indoors.
• Watch for frost warning and cover tender plants.
• Photograph your gardens and containers for a record of the year’s triumphs and frustrations.
• Give the compost a last turn.
Flowers and Other Ornamental Plants SNbS
• Divide and move perennials.
• Dig and store tender bulbs like: dahlias, caladiums, cannas and tuberous begonias.
• Start planting spring flowering bulbs.
• Harvest remaining vegetables, including green tomatoes.
• Pick herbs for drying or freezing.
• Cure winter squash for storage. Place in a cool, sheltered shady spot for about 1 month.
• Clean up fallen fruit.
Trees & Shrubs
• Plant trees and shrubs. Keep well watered, if there isn’t sufficient rain.
• Dispose of any diseased or infested plant debris, to avoid overwintering the problem.
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