September is a time of transition. Days are noticeably shorter, nights are cooler, and the weather is usually stable. It's a good time to plant or transplant.
- Harvest pears, apples and ever-bearing strawberries as they ripen. Cover new fruit on heritage raspberries with bird netting.
- Continue to harvest tomatoes, peppers, onions and winter squash. Mature green tomatoes can be ripened indoors.
- In early September, plant radishes, spinach and lettuce.
- Divide peonies. September and early fall offer the optimal time to divide this long-lived perennial.
While this plant does not require regular division to maintain successful blooming, you can divide the mother plant to increase the planting area. After digging up the main plant, divide it so each fleshy root division has three to five "eyes." These are the shoots for next season. Plant carefully - 1 to 2 inches below the surface. Peonies won't flower if they are planted too deep.
- Daylilies and tall garden phlox paniculata can be divided at this time.
- Bring coleus, wax begonias, impatiens and fuchsia indoors. You can dig up plants and cut them back to about half or take cuttings of shoot tips and root and place in moist vermiculite, soil mix or perlite.
- Dig up tender bulbs such as gladioulus, cannas, caladiums and tuberous begonias. Allow them to air dry and store in dry vermiculite.
- For dried arrangements, cut strawflower, statice, baby's breath, Annabelle hydrangea and celosia.
Bind them securely and hang upside down in a dry, well-ventilated area.
- In late September, plant spring flowering bulbs.
Select large healthy-looking bulbs because the larger the bulb the larger the flower. Cover bulbs with 3 inches of mulch or plant shallow-rooted low-growing ground covers such as sedum Angelina that act like a living mulch and can help disguise the drying leaves of bulbs next spring.
- Reduce watering for established trees and shrubs so they can harden off in preparation for winter. But continue to water newly planted trees and shrubs.
- Improve your garden soil by adding manure, compost and leaves to increase organic matter.
Lawn: Do you need to rejuvenate?
- Aeration, overseeding or new sod. This is the best time of the year to address any issues you might have in your lawn. Tall fescue grass can also be planted at this time.
- If you didn't fertilize in late August, apply fertilizer by mid-September at the rate of 1 pound nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
- With cooler weather, you can attack broadleaf weeds like dandelions, plantain, clover and bindweed while they are actively growing. Apply an herbicide such as 2-D or 4-D, following directions on the package.
Take plenty of pictures so you'll be able to recall garden success and areas that can be improved when you're planning next year's garden this winter.
Get answers to your horticultural questions by calling a master gardener volunteer at 520-7684 or emailing CSUmg2@elpasoco.com. Volunteers are available to help you from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.