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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Sept. 2013 To-Do List: Mid-South

Susan Wells

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It’s time to think about fall and winter garden tasks, like setting out kohl crops and hardy herbs, and planting trees, shrubs, and spring flowering bulbs. Buy bulbs now, but don’t plant until October or November. Keep them cool and dry in the meantime. September is a month of flowers. Fall wildflowers bloom while some summer bloomers are still putting on a show.  Ornamental grasses show off their blowsy seed heads and many roses enjoy a second flush of blooms. Even though the chores of weeding and cleanup continue, they do so in a time of beauty and bounty.


  • Compost anything that isn’t diseased or full of seeds. Rake aside mulch to use again.
  • Seed cool weather plants now, such as chard, turnips. mustard, spinach, beets, carrots, and lettuce. Plant garlic and another round of potatoes (dig potatoes before a hard freeze).
  • Sow clover, rye, or cow peas as winter cover crops in areas you won’t be using for fall vegetables.
  • Set out plants seeded earlier indoors. Mulch new seedlings well. Try a row cover to keep late summer bugs off new plants and shade them a little from the hot sun.
  • Pick ripe fruits in the evening, and keep windfalls cleared, to avoid wasps buzzing around.
  • Set out hardy herbs now: chives, sage, mint, tarragon, and rosemary.


  • Order seeds to be sown in October: larkspur, double pink poppies, cornflowers and sweet peas.
  • Feed dahlias and chrysanthemums with liquid fertilizer. Cut back scraggly plants for new fall growth.
  • Sow seeds of Sweet William, English daisies, stock and snapdragons.


  • Start roots of peonies for spring blooms. Plant an inch or so beneath the soil in well-drained, loose soil. Choose early-blooming varieties that perform in summer heat. If you have peonies that need dividing, do that now.
  • Divide hostas, daylilies and monkey grass while it’s warm enough to encourage root growth.
  • Continue to divide iris. Transplanted iris rhizomes should be slightly exposed at the soil surface.
  • Deadhead perennials, cut off browned foliage, and neaten beds for fall. If you shear lavender early in the month, you may catch another round of blossoms.
  • Replace mulch under rose bushes. You’ll prevent disease next spring.
  • Butterfly weed’s lovely orange blooms now display their showy, silky seedpods. Butterfly weed is a prolific self-seeder. Pick the seed pods before they take over available real estate and share them with friends.


  • Sow winter rye grass over Bermuda or carpet grasses for winter green. Sow fescue and cool weather perennial grasses.
  • For fescue, use 6 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet. Fertilize existing fescue.


  • Order shrubs and trees for fall planting. It’s not too early to set out container-grown shrubs if you keep them well watered until the weather cools.
  • Wait until October to plant bare root trees or shrubs.
  • While leaves are still on the trees, look for dead branches and prune them out. Wait until late winter to do major pruning.

Image: Shutterstock/thieury

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