September: To Do
If you print out this page, you should get little boxes
where the bullets are, making this a check list.
Oh, and if you really think that I actually do all of these
things, you are terribly confused. Sometimes I even (gasp)
do things that aren't on this list.
I can only guarrentee this list is accurate for the things that
I grow. I do not grow every item on this list. This list
is targetted to Sunset Zone 14,
specifically, and I think it is good for all of USDA Zone 9. In
addition, it is probably pretty accurate for USDA Zones 8-11,
maybe even 7.
What is September like? September is hot and dry because the fog
penetrates into our valley less often. Today, it is
over 100°F (38°C). I'm tired of it being hot, and, quite
frankly, I can not bear to spend much time in my garden.
Hopefully, later in the month, it will start to cool off.
General (or it never ends)
- Weed. The growing season never ends here, and neither does
- Snails and slugs. I use a powder bait that my dogs do not
eat. I find that it works best for me over and above beer or
other home rememdies.
- Water. Our average rainfall is 14 inches. That means that
watering is a chore that continues all year round.
- Wait until the HOT! weather is past to transplant
(either moving or dividing) plants. Hot weather will stress
your plants often fatally. If you must transplant during
HOT! weather you can help the plant by shading it with an
unbrella for a couple of days after transplanting.
- Fall Cleanup.
- Pick up debris like fallen branches and broken pots to
reduce overwintering sites for snails, slugs, insects, and
- Remove dying annuals and veggies and fallen leaves. Add
these (unless they are full of seeds) to the compost pile.
- Fungus and infections include black spot, rust, powdery
stems or branches, large, irregular galls near soil.
Remove all infected plants. Do not compost.
- Before storing tools, spray metal with silicone spray and
rub linseed oil on the handles.
Trees and Shrubs
- Feed azaleas, camellias, hydrangeas, and rhododendrons with
an acid type fertilizer. This feeding is ery important for
- Fertilize tender trees and shrubs.
- Fertilize tropical plants and late bloomers.
- Keep roots of mail-order plants moist until planting
- Prepare planting holes for trees, shrubs, and vines.
- Trim hedges.
- Prune weak and damaged growth.
- Thin flower clusters on camellias to one bud or until buds
are not touching. Wait until
the flower buds (fat and round) are large enough to distinguish
from leaf buds (thin and pointed).
- Take cuttings from evergreens.
- Aphids on azalea and camellias? Treat/remove
before they damage the buds.
- Wait until next spring to purchase frost tender plants like
citrus and bougainvillea.
- Don't let your roses get thirsty. Repeat bloomers are still
producing new buds.
- Prepare planting holes (I think you should wait until
winter to purchase and plant bare root roses. It is too hot.)
- Feed repeat bloomers with a low nitrogen formula.
- Pick up dropped leaves. This will go a long ways to preventing
reinfestations of blackspot, rust, and mildew.
- With the cool evening temperatures, powdery mildew is a problem at
this time of year. I don't do anything about it. In
general, the blooms aren't bothered by it. However, you can
spray a fungicide.
Lawns and Ground Covers
- Renovate lawns.
- Aerate, if not done in spring.
- Add Ironite to improve drainage.
- Topdress with compost
- Water in fertilizer.
- Start a new lawn. Seed or lay sod for cool-season lawn
- Keep new lawns moist.
- Mow lawn weekly unless the grass is very dry.
- Plant groundcover.
- Sow seeds of primrose.
- I grow cyclamen outdoors under the cedar tree in my front
yard. They have overwintered just fine. Feed them, this month,
with an all purpose fertilizer and pick off the snails.
- Thin and transplant perennials sown last month.
- Stake and fertilize chrysanthemums for the last time when they
have set buds.
- Disbud chrysanthemums, as necessary.
- Shear back bloomers when topgrowth begins to die.
- Pinch off dead flowers, particularly off fuchsias.
- Take fuchsia and pelargonium cuttings.
- Edge and mulch beds and borders where you are not dividing
plants or adding new ones.
- Dig and divide crowded spring and early summer bloomers,
but wait until the HOT! weather is past. Examples are
primrose and shasta Daisy.
- Time to buy tulip or hyacynth bulbs. These need to be
refridgerated for six (6) weeks before planting. I wait
until January to plant my tulips and hyacynths.
- Other spring bloomers are anemones, crocus, daffodils, Dutch
iris, fresias, leucojum, narcissus, ranunculus, and scilla.
Carefree and drought resistant bulbs are basket-flower or
Peruvian daffodil (Hymenocallis narcissisflora).
- Plant autumn-blooming bulbs.
- Plant lilies
- Deadhead summer bulbs as they finish blooming.
- Cut lilies back to ground when stalks die back.
- Divide crowded agapanthus, bearded iris, and dayliy.
- Edge and mulch beds and borders where you are not dividing
bulbs or adding new ones.
- Order hardy bulbs for winter planting.
- Direct-sow hardy annuals for winter flowers: sweet peas and
- Sow flower seeds of wildflowers and spring annuals:
calendula, Iceland poppy, stock,
California poppy, bachelor button, alyssum, and clarkia.
- Freshen flower bedds with new plantings: marigolds, salvias
pansies, calendulas, snapdragons, and stocks, cineraria,
nemesia, and schizanthus.
- Dried flowers? Try bachelor's button, baby's breath,
lavender scabiosa, statice, strawflowers, and yarrow. I try
to gather my flowers in the morning, so only plants blooming
on Saturday or Sunday get dried. I use a rubberband to
hold my flowers in a bunch, and I hang them upside down in
our shed or in our family room to dry. Since California has
low humidity, it doesn't really matter where you dry
flowers, as long as it is out of the sunlight.
- Deadhead faded flowers or shear back plants to promote reblooming.
- Take cuttings of coleus and other annuals to pot up for
- Stake tall plants like delphiniums and foxgloves.
- Feed annuals that are still blooming.
- Remove worn-out plants.
- Clean empty beds and borders in preparation for replanting.
- Prepare garden beds for later fall planting by digging in
compost or other organic matter and raking the soil smooth.
- Sow hardy annuals and cool-weather veggies in containers.
- Try a shrub, like sansanqua cammellia or Japanese maple (acer
palmatum) in a pot for a dramatic display.
- Feed container plants that are still blooming. A 0-10-10
formula is supposed to promote blooms.
- Harvest vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers from container
- Deadhead faded flowers.
Kitchen Garden: Vegetables and Herbs
- It is not too early to plant winter veggies in the cabbage
family, root crops, and leafy veggies: beets, broccoli, cabbage,
carrots, cauliflower, garlics, leeks, shallots,
radishes, onions, spinich, and chard. However, if it is
HOT!, it is better to wait until next month to
- Thin crowded veggie seedlings by snipping out some with sizzors.
- Continue to sow salad herbs outside.
- Plant cool-weather plants in garden or sow indoors.
- Plant perennial and shrubby herbs.
- Transplant out seedlings started earlier.
- Divide large clumps of perennial herbs.
- Continue taking cuttings.
- Keep up on harvest. Try to pick early in the day when veggies
and plants are fresh.
- Tie trimmings of thyme, lavender, and sage into bundles to
use on winter fires.
- Pick artemisia stems and bind them into circles for use as
- Lift and store maincrop potatoes.
- Check stakes and supports on tall plants. Tie up sprawling
tomato vines to supports.
- Cut back tall stems and foliage of perennial herbs not
- Prune edging and hedging herbs.
- Pull spent crops
- Clean up dropped leaves and other debris.
- Sow a crop of a green manure (such as buckwheat) to use up
nutrients in vacant ground, which will be recycled when the
crop is dug in.
- Turn compost pile.
- Wait to pick apples until the apple stem easily breaks when
you place your hand under the apple and gently lift up. If you
must twist the step to harvest your fruit, the fruit is not
- Feed fruit trees for the last time before March for
increased vigour in the spring.
- Feed citrus.
- Layer berries to start new plants.
- Summer prune cordon and espalier apples if not already
- Pick up dropped fruit and fallen leaves.
If the dropped fruit is near your
house, it might encourage ants to form colonies near your house.
House, greenhouse, or conservatory plants
- Bring in house plants that have summered outdoors before the
nights get too cool. Wash them with warm water. A drench of
diazinon at 1/2 strength will get rid of soil bugs.
- Sow spring-flowering plants like cyclamen, schizanthus,
- Clean off summer shading washes.
- Repot cacti if they need it.
- To get blooming poinsettias for the mid-winter festival:
take cuttings from
existing plants by the middle of September.
- Pot up and pot on seedling potplants as it becomes
- Plant hyacinths for early flowering under glass.
- Indoor blooms: plant sweet peas to bloom in late December,
calendulas and blue lace flowers to bloom in February,
calceolarias and cinerarias to bloom in February and March, and
larkspurs and lupines to bloom in April.
- If you have a sunny but cool (50° F/10°) spot, you
can plant snapdragons and stocks to bloom in March.
Other: Structural and Special
- Check that greenhouse heaters are in good working order.
Arrange to have them serviced if necessary.
- Deer are having a hard time this month because all their food
has dried out just like the rest of the hills, so, of course, they
invade your green, lush, yummy garden. Try hanging deorderant
soap at browsing levels in your apple trees as a repellent, or
try mixing 2 cups water with 5 eggs and spraying vulnerable
plants with the mixture (humans are not supposed to be able to
To Do Index