The Monthly Gardener – September

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Our New Blog

Because a number of my readers have asked, “What should I be doing with my garden this month?” I’ve decided to start a monthly blog post that deals with just that –– what you should be focusing on in your garden during that particular month.

I thought September was a great starting point because it’s when we all headed back to school. And while I don’t want you to think of this as school, the blog’s intent is informative. But so as to not get bogged down in the myriad details of what fertilizer to use or what’s the best PH balance for a particular plant, I will try to focus on the significant aspects of planting, growing and maintaining your garden for that month.

However, if you have a question about fertilizer or the PH balance of the soil, or whatever … I’ll be happy to research it and get back to you, just shoot me an email.

September Thoughts

Unlike most of the country where September marks the beginning of fall and the end of the growing season, here, in Southern California, it’s just the beginning of the fall planting season. And while October is the best month for planting – after the Santa Ana winds and before the winter rain, September is the month to get everything ready. So here are some things to think about:

Garden Clean Up
  • Now is the time to clean up or overhaul your perennial beds. Most perennials — bushes, shrubs, trees and ground covers, but not  tropicals, are best when planted in the fall before the winter rains
  • Clean out faded flowers, but leave good ones in place to enjoy as long as they are still blooming.
  • Begin switching from summer-blooming to winter- and spring-blooming annuals
  • In your vegetable garden, continue to harvest your warm-season vegetables but start cleaning them out as they die back or are no longer productive and start planting cool-season vegetables
  • Begin buying spring-flowering bulbs while the nurseries have a big selection and plant those that will grow through the winter

It’s Still Summer & Santa Ana Winds

Even though the nights are getting longer, September is still an extension of summer weather. So it’s important to continue to water deeply and according to the individual needs of the plants.  The Santa Ana winds, typical in September, are like a blast furnace hitting your plants. If they come, it’s best to water early in the day or in the evening and not during the day where water on the leaves combined with scorching temperatures can seriously injure the plant.

Many mature trees need to be watered to avoid being weakened and made vulnerable to invasive insects.  If water supplies are curtailed because of drought, it’s essential to use what water you have to irrigate mature shrubs, trees and vines, allowing your lawn and annuals to die.

Time To Fertilize

Here are some plants that need to be fertilized:

  • Fuchsias
  • Tuberous begonias
  • Ferns, for the last time
  • Tropicals for the last time (only if they need it)
  • Cyclamens
  • Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti
  • Warm-season lawns
  • Roses

I hope you enjoy this monthly addition to “Thoughts & Fancies,” and will let me know if there is something in particular you would like to know about. Just shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to come up with the answer or the solution.

(Parts of this blog have been excerpted from “Southern California Gardening, A Month-by-Month Guide,” by Pat Welsh. 2000.)

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