By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
Week of September 4, 2006
“September Gardening Calendar”
September is usually the month when the stifling summer temperatures
break and the rains begin. This year has been exceptionally hot
and dry but we expect conditions will moderate.
If it is a normal year, expect the lawn to green up with cooling
temps and rain. Be careful how you react. There is an inclination
to try to make up for the severe conditions all at once. Stick
to once per week watering supplemented by hand watering of hot
spots. The green up will occur with this pattern and there will
not be a danger of fungus attack. Over watering in the autumn
and watering in the evening often results in a brown patch attack.
The prospects of winter weeds in the lawn is very high. Consider
applying a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent winter weeds like
dandelions, annual bluegrass, rescue grass and bedstraw.
If you postponed putting in a new lawn because of the drought,
September is still a reasonable new lawn month.
Tomatoes have not fared well in the 100° F heat. There is
still time to plant heat setting varieties like Surefire, Sunmaster,
Solar fire and Sun pride if you can find large specimens. Gardeners
who potted their tomatoes up to keep them out of full sun should
put them in the garden now. Mulch around the root system, fertilize
and water every day until the heat breaks and the plants are settled
in. Spray with Bt to kill caterpillars and seaweed spray to keep
the spider mites at bay. There is still time to plant southern
peas, sweet corn, and green beans for an autumn harvest.
Corn grows fast in the autumn but it is very susceptible to earworms
and even snails. Spread slug and snail bait and spray the plant
every week with Sevin or malathion.
Zinnias can be planted. They will last until cold weather. Petunias
like VIP and Laura Bush and the Wave series will bloom through
a mild winter. Wait to plant snapdragons, stocks, calendula, and
dianthus until a cool front moves through, usually in October.
The autumn is the best time to observe hummingbirds. We normally
have three species that visit from now until mid November; black-chin,
ruby-throated and rufous hummingbirds. Attract them to your yard
or patio with sugar water feeders and a few container plants.
Firebush is the best choice for full sun. In deep shade, Firespike
is nearly as good. Penta is a good hummingbird and butterfly plant
for both sun and shade. In the garden, consider cape honeysuckle,
Turk’s Cap and shrimp plant. Both Turk’s Cap and shrimp
plant have shade tolerance.
A few of the early pecan varieties will mature in September.
Pawnee is one of the first. For best pecan quality collect the
nuts that fall every day or two. It is important that your fruit
trees maintain their foliage until November 1. Fruit buds formed
in July and August and the foliage the next two months is preparing
the tree to survive the winter and produce a full crop next spring.
Water is a key to keeping the foliage in place. Irrigate every
two weeks through the end of October.
Roses can produce a flush of blooms through the next three months.
Fertilize with a cup of slow release lawn fertilizer per plant,
irrigate every week if there is no rain and spray every week to
10 days with Orthene and Funginex. Old fashioned roses do not
need the insecticide and fungicide sprays.
September is the time to spread wildflower seeds. Look for an
area in full sun where the seed will reach bare soil. Raking the
soil before seeding contributes to success, but do not bury the
- 2 -