GARDENER’S CORNER (Zone 6)
September is an excellent time to plant herbaceous perennials as well as trees and shrubs. The days are cooler and transplants don’t suffer heat stress as they would in high summer. The soil is warm so roots have ample time to establish themselves before cold sets in and autumn rains often do the watering for us. The key is sooner is better. Another plus is most nurseries run end of season sales, so your dollars go farther than they would in the spring. If there are plants on your wishlist, now is the time to act!
It has become a common practice to decorate with mums and small asters that can be had at local stands at very affordable prices. They brighten our fall days and are the last flowers for the year. Try to resist buying plants that are in full bloom and instead pick ones that are tightly budded as they will last longer.
It is not too early to think about next spring’s bulb garden choices. Getting your bulbs in the ground by late September ensures a well-developed root system by the time the ground freezes. And the weather is likely to be more pleasant than working on a frigid day one or two months further on!
Start cutting back annuals and perennials as they go by, composting the refuse if it is free of disease, otherwise burn or throw in the trash. Fungus and preying insects can overwinter in old leaves and stems. If a perennial is growing in an exposed location or is tender, near the limit of its hardiness zone, a light straw mulch may help it better survive the deep cold of winter. (I recommend holding off until a few frosts have established dormancy before applying mulch.)
September is the bridge between warmer and cooler weather. It has many nearly perfect days that we often wish we could gather and store away for the time when the days are short and bitterly cold. Take each one as a gift and make the most of them as this season of change is upon us. Above all, enjoy the bounties of late summer!