Archive for August 31, 2009

This Month in the Garden – September



Mid-Atlantic Region

September Maintenance Guide

Helen's Haven Summer - Mixed Bed

Helen's Haven Summer - Mixed Bed


September delights.  With the dog days of summer behind us, September opens with cooler air creating a fresh scent and a sense of excitement.  The source of this excitement may be for no other reason than it being bearable enough to be out of doors once again.

Here’s some September Inspiration in case you need it.


  • Hopefully, bulb selection was already done while the selection was good.  Buy what you fancy while they are available.  Avoid mushy, soft, moldy bulbs; buy from a reputable supplier.  And it is good to know that “bigger IS better.”
  • October is a better time for planting, but purchase in September while the selection is best.
  • Plant fall-blooming bulbs, such as autumn crocus.


  • Continue to harvest basil and use for cooking.  Continue to pinch back flowers.


  • Sowing seeds of California, Iceland, and Shirley poppies, sweet alyssum, and larkspur this fall for spring color and fun.
  • If your Zinnia’s have powdery mildew, they will come out soon, as such, no need to worry about them.  Next year, look for mildew-resistant strains.


  • Towards the end of the month, as the weather cools, the best time to plant and divide  perennials begins.


  • Our native Dogwood is a fantastic four-season tree making it a choice for all those zoned to have one.  As the leaves turn from green to red, excitement ensures.


  • Roses make a big comeback in September and October.  Be sure to stop fertilizing your roses 6 weeks before the last expected frost. In Raleigh, we have a 90% chance of a frost by Halloween. Therefore, stop fertilizing by mid-September. If you have rose varieties with nice hips, this is also a good time to stop deadheading to allow the hips to remain. To tidy up your rose garden, remove the pedals by hand. Letting the hips to grow to signal the rose to go into dormancy.


Watch where you reach.  Black widow spiders are plentiful.

Black widow spider

Black widow spider


  • Save seeds for planting next year or let plants self sow.  Also consider leaving seed heads on the plants for the wildlife to enjoy.


September and October tend to be dry months, unless we have a hurricane.  Plan to water any new plantings, including bulbs.


Don’t be to tidy in cleaning up the garden and deadheading.  The wildlife will enjoy the seed.

Encourage pollinating insects in your garden, such as bees and butterflies, by providing them a tasty treat.  This fall, plan to plant nectar-rich plants.  Nectar, the sugar-rich liquid many flowering plants produce, sustains bees and butterflies.

For the Bees: Add clover, cotoneaster, golden rod, heliotrope, Eupatorium cannabium, Lunaria annua, love-in-mist, asters, and Echium vulgare

For the Butterflies: Alyssum, Ajuga reptans, Iberis amara, catmint, echinops, verbena rigida, Rededa ororate, Joe-Pye weed.

Did you know:

  • 80% of the world’s food crops need a pollinator at some stage in their life cycle; many require multiple visits.
  • Stick with the species.  Many double flowers are usually sterile with no value to insects.  The petals of the second flower replaced the anthers and nectarines leaving the plant unable to be fertilized.
  • Many pollinating insects ingest protein-rich pollen before they can breed and some use pollen to feed their young.
  • Plant in en masse making the plants easier to find through grouped color and scent.
David and Lara Rose putting up a screech owl box

David and Lara Rose putting up a screech owl box

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