What to do in your garden in September
Add autumn color. Add these plants to your landscape now foryears of fall color. Trees: crape myrtle ( Lagerstroemia hybrids), honey locust ( Gleditsia triacanthos 'Sunburst'), maidenhair tree ( Ginkgo biloba; plant fruitless male trees), and smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria). Shrubs: cotoneaster, dwarf red-leafplum (Prunus x cistena), and Japanese barberry.
Start cool-season vegetables. Prepare beds by digging in a4- to 6-inch layer of compost or well-aged manure. Sunset climate zones 1a-3b: Sow seeds of bok choy, carrots,chard, kale, lettuce, radishes, and spinach; plant garlic cloves(see PlantingGarlic). Zones 10-13: As soon as daytime temperatures staybelow 100°, sow seeds of arugula, beets, bok choy, carrots,chard, fava beans, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, peas, andturnips. Plant onion sets and set out transplants of broccoli,brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and chives. More:Guide to salad gardens
Plant palms. Zones 11-13: Take advantage of remaining warmweather by adding palms to your landscape. Suggested kinds includedate palm (Phoenix dactylifera), Guadalupe palm (Brahea edulis), Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis), Mexican blue palm (Brahea armata), and pindo palm (Butia capitata).
Set out spring bulbs. Zones 1a-3b, 10: Plant spring-bloomingbulbs, including crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips. If youhave cannas, dahlias, or gladiolus, dig up bulbs and tubers now andstore in a cool, dry place for the winter. Zones 11-13: For bestselection, buy allium, callas, crocus, freesia, hyacinths,narcissus, and zephyranthes bulbs now; put into paper bags andstore in the crisper section of the refrigerator (away from fruit)until October, when soil is cooler, then plant them in the garden. Step-by-step:Planting bulbs in pots
Sow sweet peas. For luscious spring fragrance and color, youcan't beat sweet peas. Soak seeds in water overnight to speedgermination, then sow seeds 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart inenriched soil. Renee's Garden Seeds sellsdozens of varieties, including early bloomers like 'ChiffonElegance' and 'Velvet Elegance' as well as the new 'Electric Blue','Pastel Sunset', and 'Watermelon'.
Start strawberries. Zones 10-13: In well-drained, enrichedsoil, set out plants now to encourage growth, since bigger moremature plants mean more fruit next spring. Water deeply andregularly to reduce salt buildup in the root zone and protect fromfrost in colder areas. Varieties that grow well in the Southwestinclude 'Camarosa', 'Chandler', and 'Sequoia'.
Conserve water. Check out the website www.wateruseitwisely.comfor advice on reducing water use indoors and out. One clever idea:Use ice cubes to water hanging plants, which helps reduce runoff.You can also request a free copy of the booklet Landscape Watering by the Numbers and download lists oflow-water plants for your area.
Rejuvenate roses. Zones 1a-3b, 10: Let faded blossoms remainon plants to form fruits (called hips); this helps plants make thetransition to winter. Zones 11-13: On hybrid roses, prune out deador damaged canes, then cut remaining canes back by one-third.Fertilize and water thoroughly to encourage fall bloom.