Playing in the dirt: Timely tips for great autumn blooms


Sharon Carrigan

Sharon Carrigan



Sharon Carrigan



September was my least favorite month when I worked, because Labor Day was the last day out of school until Thanksgiving. I think that's changed now, but back then those weeks stretched interminably with no relief in sight. In retirement, it's the month after summer, the first day of fall (Sept. 22) and an opportunity for more playing in the dirt. As I write, we are blessed with good rain for the first time in weeks. That makes playing much more fun and much easier. 


Now, if you think you can only plant in the spring, guess again. Fall is the ideal time to plant shrubs, trees and some veggies and ornamentals. Read on for tips about fall planting. But first, if you just want to know these things all by yourself, think about joining the Master Gardener organization next year. Watch this column for the where and when nearer time for the next class to begin. You'll meet new friends (and maybe some old ones), learn all about when to plant and so much more.  




To do this month 


  • Preparation: Plan beds for bulbs (this is so you can find them they come up). Order bulbs. Prepare beds for October by adding compost or leaf mold. 


  • Plant: Daylilies can go in a sunny location, to be well established before winter. Divide and transplant Louisiana iris, Easter lily, canna, liriope, ajuga and Shasta daisy.  


    Plant all cool season vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc., and warm season grasses; mums for September bloom and fall color. Marigolds, asters, zinnias and celosia to replace faded annuals, seeds for English daisy, Forget-me-not, pansy, Sweet William and violet. 


  • Fertilize: Acid loving plants that exhibit yellowing of leaves need a treatment of iron chelate. Mums need a complete fertilizer every two weeks and water thoroughly until buds show color. 


  • Prune: Annuals such as impatiens and vinca can be pruned to encourage fall bloom. Disbud camellias, dahlias and chrysanthemums to produce specimen blooms. Continue deadheading in the garden to stimulate blooming.  


    Cut back rose canes to 24-30 inches from ground for autumn blooms. Remove dead and damaged wood from trees and shrubs. 


  • Water: Water gardens deeply early in the morning or in late afternoon, but infrequently throughout the month. Potted plants need to be watered daily. Make sure azaleas and camellias stay well-watered. Especially remember to keep newly planted items well-watered. September temperatures are still very hot.  


    Now, go play in the dirt.  


    Sharon Carrigan of Columbus shares timely gardening tips on behalf of the Lowndes County Master Gardeners.



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