Gardening Tips for September 2016

Dear Gardening Friends,

  • Ordinarily fall is the best time to divide and move perennials and plant trees and shrubs. With the prolonged dry weather we’ve had I would be conservative in your approach. If it can wait till spring that may be prudent. If not, just make sure to keep any newly planted plants, trees or shrubs well watered right up until the ground freezes.
  • Another planting tip is to add 1/3 compost to any planting hole. Mix it with the current soil for an easy soil amendment. 
  • Your perennial needs dividing if:
    • It has outgrown its space
    • The bloom has diminished
    • The center of the clump is dying back so the clump looks like a doughnut
    • The saying goes, if the plant blooms in spring, move it in the fall. If it blooms in fall, move it in spring.
  • Trees and shrubs, as well as perennials should be planted when they will have at least 4 weeks for their roots to settle in.
  • Many trees are showing signs of drought stress. They include yellowing or browning leaves and/or leaf edges. Drooping, curling and undersized leaves are also a symptom. When watering trees water out where the leaf canopy ends, not at the trunk. The exception is newly planted trees that don’t have extensive roots. Those shopld be watered over the root ball closer to the trunk.
  • Bulbs can be planted now for best results as they will have time to set some roots before winter. That being said, you can technically plant them up until the ground freezes.
    • If you have problems with critters digging up your bulbs put a square of small gauge chicken wire over the planting hole (under the top surface of soil so it isn’t visible). The bulbs will grow right through the chicken wire. Large gauge hardware cloth can also be used.
    • Don’t add bone meal to the bulb planting hole as it actually draws critters. If you use any fertilizer mix it into the soil so it doesn’t burn the bulbs.
  • This is a good time cut back stems on plants that are past their prime. If it looks more brown than green you can cut it back.
  • However, it’s not necessary to cut back all the perennials. Leaving plants with seed heads intact is good food for winter birds. The crowns and leaves of the plants also serve as a protective cover for the plants against temperature changes during the winter.
  • I tend to leave most plants intact for the winter and leave fallen leaves in the garden beds. It’s good for protecting the roots from temperature fluctuations as well as providing necessary winter habitat for many beneficial insects and their larva.
  • Early September is a good time to bring in annuals for the winter or take cuttings. This should be done BEFORE the nights get cooler and your furnace goes on. It’s also best to take cuttings or bring plants in when they are in their prime. They will not do well after they start diminishing.
  • Most nurseries are having sales. It’s a great time to find some bargains. However look the plants over carefully including the roots. An unhealthy or diseased plant is no bargain.
  • Lawn care:
    • Fall (once it cools down) is a good time to reseed or over-seed your lawn.
    • It’s also a good time to apply fertilizer if your lawn needs it. Applying fertilizer when the lawn is brown and dormant is not advised.
    • Natural fertilizers are much better than chemical fertilizers. However, if you mow high, leave the grass clippings on the lawn and lightly spread some compost over the grass. That’s all you need to do.

Happy Gardening!

Lyn Chimera

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