September brings leaves of crimson, gold, scarlet, bronze and orange. It is a transformative month for gardeners to survey the fruits of their labor and to look ahead to prepare for what will be.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on September 17, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to new questions or comments.)
September in the Garden
As the cooler weather approaches. September finds the gardener concerned with planting and transplanting and harvesting. It is a time to bring your garden journal up to date to evaluate successes and failures and make reminders for future years. Depending on what part of the country you live in and the length of your growing season, September is about maintenance and preparation.
September is the time to sow new lawns and repair old ones. Excess grass clippings and debris should be removed for if left over all winter it may invite lawn diseases in the spring. Fertilizing and reseeding is recommended this month.
Annuals can be fed for the last time and provide a supplement for next spring . Perennials can be planted now and should be cheaper to buy than in Spring. They should be planted in time to provide about three or four weeks of decent growing conditions before harsh weather sets in and mulched about two inches deep.
Houseplants should be washed with a spray of soapy water to destroy insects that may make their way into the house. They should be brought back indoors at least two weeks before house heating systems are turned on so they may accustom themselves to their new environment.
Small spring-flowering bulbs can be planted the last part of the month for they are the first to bloom. Planting some bulbs in buried pots in the ground will make it easy to bring them indoors in the winter for added color and early blooms. Annuals that may be sown this month for spring include snapdragons, calendulas, phlox, Nicotiania, Gaillardias, Coreopsis and lupines to name a few.
Now is a good time to buy supplies for the greenhouse that will be needed over the winter.
The groundwork for new perennial beds or borders should begin the end of the month or early October. Beds should be made over every third or fourth year with the soil deeply dug and enriched.
In the South, rose beds should be prepared for fall blooms by removing any weak wood and diseased foliage, cutting back vigorous growth by about one quarter their length and applying fertilizer. Evergreens can be planted in the South this month adding camellias, hollies and magnolias. Daylilies and peonies should be divided.
On the West coast soil prep is in progress for fall planting and seeding. Watering and fertilizing should be cut back this month on subtropical plants as too much will produce a soft late growth that may be susceptible to frost. Winter vegetable gardens are started now to approach maturity before first frost.
Gardeners that experience Fall may feel more keenly that winter is on the way but those vegetables that improve with a frost can still be enjoyed such as the root crops, brussel sprouts, cabbages and kale.
Fall brings the squirrels and chipmunks hiding food for winter, Birds are leaving their Northern homes, and brisk breezes carry seeds far away to new homes.
About Joyce B. Gladden
I am a transplanted New Yorker, writer, and novice gardener learning more and more each season. My plant of choice is Coleus (growing to include roses and others as I become more passionate about gardening). Other long time interests include book collecting and quilting.