Even if you have occasional rains, remember that the soil dries out quickly now. See that propagating beds and newly planted or transplanted plants are kept moist. They are getting their first root growth now and need constant water supply. Don’t forget to water the compost heap.
Before the leaves fall, get your garden on paper. Plan the changes which you expect to make during the winter. Don’t do as I do and sit back in the recliner making big plans which can never come to pass.
All flower beds should be given a final clean-up for the season, all weeds and old stalks removed and burned. This will give you a better display for fall flowers. Keeping the beds clean is based on real facts. Disease germs and pests lurk in dead stalks and leaves left around all winter. Besides, nothing looks as unattractive as a flower bed with debris, weeds and grass left all winter.
Don’t fertilize roses from now on but keep up the spraying program. Spray after each hard rain to prevent black spot which lurks around the beds for a long, long time.
If you want to transplant a peony or peonies, try rotating the transplanting so you won’t risk a loss of all blooms. Remember that September 15th marks about the last safe opportunity for transplanting peonies. If you want to order the newer peonies, order them right now to get them in the ground before the middle of September. But remember that peonies don’t like to be moved and may do well and bloom for forty or fifty years in the same place if kept properly fed and pruned.
This is also the last chance to successfully divide iris this year.
Most all hardy asters are wild species which were brought in from fields and improved. These wonderful fall flowering plants need constant division in order to keep them growing in the garden. Clumps should be divided every year leaving not over four or five stalks to a plant.
Pansies may be wintered outside if covered over with straw just before frost. Using leaves is not a good idea since they pack down. If you sowed pansies in August, transplant them now and order more seeds for earliest spring sowing.
In this column we have often advised that fall planting of perennials works best. However, if put in the ground too late in fall or if the perennial is maybe not hardy enough for your area, you can’t depend on good results.
If your lawn looks bedraggled at this time of year, maybe it needs a pick-me-up. A good high-nitrogen fertilizer such as 27-3-6 may be just the trick at the end of summer. The reason for the high nitrogen is that your lawn needs nitrogen more at this time than the other two, phosphate and potash (or potassium). Being the lazy gardener, though I call myself a wise user of my time, I prefer a liquid that attaches to a garden hose.
September is the best time to get at the broadleaf weeds such as chickweed and dandelions that you have contended with all summer. Your garden center can recommend some mixtures including 2,4-D. Some of these dry herbicides may not work unless the rain comes just right so you might need to hose the lawn down after applying.
This may answer your question about fertilizing shrubs and trees. After the first frost, apply a fertilizer and water well.
I have a news flash for those readers who wonder why no snake tales. I have not seen even a tiny garter snake this year. I wondered at that until I had an eye exam at the ophthalmologist’s this week and discovered that my glasses were in dire need of a change. Now I’m afraid to go into the back yard where they used to lurk. Now I know why Ma liked to have me, with my young eyes, along when she went around the big yards where there were sometimes copperheads and rattlesnakes.
(Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 or write Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211.)