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David Daehnke
United States

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Gardening Tips for September and October


* Wisteria vines that have refused to bloom may be root-pruned at this season. This may not prove to be successful on every plant, but it is worth a try.

* Daffodils should be planted in September if possible. They need to develop a good root system before the Winter sets in.

* Tulips need not be planted for several weeks, but it is wise to place your orders now for the bulbs before they are out of stock.

* Crocuses, snowdrops, chionodoxas, scillas and other small bulbs should be planted as early as possible.

* Hyacinths and daffodils to be forced for Winter color should be potted and plunged into a cellar or trench for root making.

* Strawflowers or everlastings should be picked just as the bud begins to open, tied loosely in bunches, and permitted to hang head down for several weeks while they dry.

* Plant a tree peony for a change. The best time to set them out is during the next few weeks. Bone meal is a good fertilizer for them. Remember to give them a little bit of cover for the Winter.

* Gourds for Winter decoration should be picked before the first frost. The stem should be cut two inches above the fruit which then can be brought in the house to dry.

* Bleeding heart can be safely divided in the Fall.

* Divide and plant peonies this month so they will have time to become established before the first frost. Again, a handful of bonemeal is just what the plant ordered.

* The herbaceous border can be remade at this time of year, with the exception of the Fall flowering perennials. Make sure you add organic matter to the hole before replanting.

* Purchase ferns and other house plants now so they can become accustomed to the house conditions before Winter sets in.

* This is also a good time to set out plants of the Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger in a partially shade area.

* If radishes are started in a coldframe at this time, they will be ready to eat before snow comes.

* Many ornamental trees may be planted successfully in the Fall, with the exception of magnolias and tulip trees. Larches and other trees that start their growth early in the Spring should always be set out in the Fall. Fall is also the best time to plant lilacs.

* Donít forget that newly planted trees need an abundance of water, especially heading into the Winter. This applies to evergreens as well as deciduous trees.

* Reseed barespots in your lawn as soon as possible in September so the will be established before the Winter sets in.

* Ornamental figures in the garden can be cleaned of lichens by washing them with soap and water and a brush. Make sure to thoroughly rinse the statue afterwards.

* Marigolds, calendulas, and nasturtiums may be dug up and planted in pots and brought inside for indoor blooming.

* Take in houseplants promptly, repotting them if needed in a good compost mix. Move them in stages as not to stress them during the transition.

* Give evergreens, rhododendrons and newly set out perennials a thorough soaking of water, but do not water newly planted bulbs.

* Amaryllis plants that have been growing outside all Summer should be allowed to dry out (their dormancy period) then placed in a dark place until the new growth starts.

* Tulip planting may be started as soon as the bulbs arrive, although mid-October is early enough.

* Bulbs planted this month should be mulched lightly, but not until after the ground freezes.

* All roots and bulbs that need Winter storage, such as dahlias, tuberous rooted begonias, caladiums, cannas and gladioli, need to be taken in when the frost has cut the tops down.

* When they gourds have dried, they should be washed and then may be painted, waxed or decorated to suit your needs.

* For early Spring blooms in the garden or rock garden, plant Winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis. The yellow buttercup-like blossoms will open two weeks ahead of crocuses.

* Warm season ornamental grasses are in full bloom at this time of year. Note which ones you like now for Spring planting.

* Cull apples and wormy fruits that are lying under the trees. Dispose of these in your trash, not your compost, to get rid of insects and diseases next year.

* All trees and shrubs should receive plenty of moisture before the ground freezes.

* Make sure to start your own compost pile this season. Donít waste the leaves, recycle them into compost!

If you have a particular question you would like the Gardening Guru to answer, e-mail me at, or check to see if your question has already been asked on the Question and Answer Message Board. Good Luck!

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