Cooler weather greets garden chores

Published on Thursday, 7 September 2017 13:52 - Written by ANDIE RATHBONE, Smith County Master Gardeners

I always get a boost of optimism when August is over. While the heat is not completely over, the 100-plus-degree days should be and we hope that cooler days will bring us more refreshing rain.

The schoolhouse lilies and the spider lilies are starting to bloom, and that’s always a sign that shorter days and cooler temperatures are on their way.

And with cooler temperatures, the gardening chores start to pick up. Thankfully, it’s more pleasant to be out in the garden. Here’s your “to-do” list for September:

- Refresh your garden by removing dead and dying summer plants. Revive heat-stressed plants by removing spent blooms, ragged or dead foliage and fertilizing lightly.

- If you didn’t get your roses pruned in August, do so in the first two weeks of the month. Reduce the size of the rose bushes by 35 percent.

- Keep azaleas and camellias well watered, as they are setting buds for winter and spring blooms.

- Divide and replant established clumps of irises, daylilies, cannas and other crowded perennials.

- Ready beds for fall and winter flowers. Add compost and loosen soil to improve drainage.

- Replenish mulch to 3 inches in preparation for colder weather.

- This is the most important time to fertilize your lawn. Fertilizing now will make it survive the winter better and emerge more quickly in the spring. Use a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ration unless your soil tests indicates otherwise.

- Feed roses for the last time this month.

- Feed azaleas and camellias with fertilizer labeled for acid-loving plants.

- Do not fertilize perennials that have stopped growing or are slowing down for the winter.

- Buy spring-blooming bulbs to plant in October and November. The SCMG “From Bulbs to Blooms” Sale will be held Oct. 14 at Harvey Convention Center.

- Plant cool-season leafy vegetables like lettuce, mustard, kale, spinach, broccoli turnips, cilantro and parsley.

- Plant snapdragons, petunias, marigolds, dianthus and calendula for great fall color. Wait until it gets cooler to plant mums and pansies.

- Sow wildflower seeds for spring blooms.

- Fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs as the roots have time to develop over the winter for a head start when warm weather returns.

Enjoy the garden in the cooler weather!