In your garden

september notes

A visit to the Garden right now can give you lots of ideas for colorful season-extenders to plant in your own flowerbeds. Enjoy the beauties of September: sedums, gentians, toad lilies, plumbago, Japanese anemones, bluebeard, goldenrod, asters and browneyed Susans – the list of late-blooming perennials goes on and on.

Fall is a fine time to plant many landscape plants. Temperatures may be dropping, but roots are still growing in the relatively warm earth. Rain and snow help take care of watering needs during the dormant season, but always water newly- planted plants regularly if it doesn’t rain. Most trees and shrubs can be planted from now through the end of September.  Perennials in larger containers tend to do well when planted in autumn, and they are often on sale at this time of year.

Order spring blooming bulbs now to plant in October. In Northeast Ohio most bulbs perform best if planted by early November. Consider planting some of the many colors and sizes of alliums. Unlike tulips, they are not palatable to deer.

It’s natural for many garden plants to show a bit of wear and tear at this time. Powdery mildew and yellowing or spotted leaves should be trimmed off and cleared away to reduce the potential for re-infection next season. Most of the spots and damage that show up in September are more unsightly than life-threatening. Note where they occur and research preventative actions to take in the late winter or spring.

Pinch off tomato and pepper flowers to send all available nutrients to the developing fruit. Harvest herbs to freeze or dry before frost.  Cut down the basil plants and make pesto!

Mature green tomatoes can be ripened indoors. Individually wrap fruits in newspaper, or leave them on the vine, pulling the entire plant out of the garden. Store in a cool location -- about 55 F to 60 F.

Take cuttings of coleus, sweet potato vine, impatiens, and other tender plants to winter over indoors. All of them root easily in water, and you won’t need to purchase new ones next spring.

Inspect, groom and wash houseplants prior to bringing them back indoors.  Done at this time, a spray with mild insecticidal soap or neem oil can forestall a midwinter explosion of scale, whitefly or spider mites. It’s much easier to do this while the days are still warm and the plants can dry off outdoors.  Prune back lightly and only repot if plants are seriously potbound. Both pruning and repotting is best done in the spring just before the growth cycle begins.