DOUG’S GARDENING BLOG – September Gardening Chores


I think we can safely refer to August as the PETRICHOR MONTH. Petrichor is defined as the unique, earthy smell associated with rain. We had a record rainfall amount in August. But, on the positive side, our plants have been well watered by Mother Nature. Our rivers, streams, reservoirs, and underground aquifers are full as we head into September.

With September, we are entering a very important time for gardening, planting, and lawn care. Now is the time to take advantage of our moist, warm soils and get our planting and gardening tasks underway.



If you follow the S.O.D. program then you know that September is the start of lawn care season with seeding or overseeding your lawn with a cool-season fescue grass seed. And, you want to apply a lawn starter fertilizer to the lawn.


Now is the beginning of planting your cool crop vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, etc. These leafy vegetables enjoy the cooler fall temperatures.


Bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, muscari, etc. can be planted now and will give you late winter/early spring color. Tulip bulbs are available now as well but you want to wait until closer to Thanksgiving to plant. Our soil temperature in September and October is still too warm for the tulip bulb. Buy now / plant later.


September is NOT a time to be doing any pruning on evergreen shrubs such as hollies, boxwoods, etc. Pruning will encourage new growth development and this new growth will not have enough time to “harden” off before cold sets in for the season. Hold off on any pruning until late winter when our plants are in a dormant state.


September is a good month to refurbish our flowering containers. Pansies, snapdragons, dusty miller, mums, etc. all work well together in giving your containers gardens a fresh, fall, and winter look.

Let’s make this fall a successful planting season. Come see us for all your plant and plant product needs as well as our helpful, professional advice.


17 thoughts on “DOUG’S GARDENING BLOG – September Gardening Chores”

  1. I have a question about Milkweed. The milkweed with the orange blooms are blooming and doing well. The milkweed with the grey blooms have lost most of their leaves and now look awful. I saw only a few butterflies this summer including 2 monarchs. Is the look of the milkweed with the grey blooms doing what is normal for them, or is there a problem. This is the first time I have planted milkweed.

    • Rusty,
      First and foremost I want to applaud you for growing Milkweed and supporting our butterflies. As for the grey bloom milkweed that you mention…I am assuming it is the Incarnata variety that is actually a very light pink bloom that can seem grey. As for its decline – it could be caused by a common insect called aphid. You would need to inspect the underside of the leaves and along the stems to see if you find aphids. You want to be careful right now because you don’t want to disturb and butterfly eggs. So, I would not recommend doing any spraying. I would let nature take its course at this time. The Incarnata milkweed is a perennial and will be back next year. I hope I explained myself clearly enough. If not, send me another message. Thank you, Doug

  2. thanks as I have lots of Incarnata milk weed and most of the plants are showing the described issue. The swamp milk weed that I have looks to be in great shape some are blooming and others have seed pods. Unlike the person in the previous email I’ve had a fair amount of butterflies many were monarchs, some swallow tails and others of various sizes. I like to think that my 3rd is a pollinators paradise and I still have quite a few though noticeably fewer than previous years. I hope that we gardeners and nature lovers can continue to work using our planting to help these precious creatures survive. When is a good time to plant milkweed, id like to plant some along the Pautuxent at riverfront park? I did spread seeds
    last year but have seen none of the plants grow

    • I love reading about people who are helping to support our butterflies and other pollinators. You can plant milkweed now since it is a hardy perennial. And, we have milkweed seed available now from Botanical Interest. If you decide to sow some seed then you want to do it soon. The packet suggests sowing 2 to 4 weeks before frost. Our average first frost date for this region is around October 20.

  3. After reading an article in “Two Million Blossoms”, I didn’t try to remove the aphids on my milkweed. As the article suggested, if left alone, nature may provide. Shortly thereafter I saw LOTs of little orange insects that devoured the aphids in a few days. No chemicals necessary.

  4. I’m so glad I read this article about milkweed. I too have planted native milkweed and the leaves were covered with aphids. I left them alone for fear of killing butterfly eggs as I know this is the time of the year they lay eggs. I do have swallowtail caterpillars on my parsley. Any recommendations for next year for the aphids?

    • Patricia,
      Thank you for your message. It puts a smile on my face when I talk to people or I read messages about growing milkweed and “raising” butterflies. It is fun. As for aphids… aphids is not difficult to control. You can stay organic with just using a water hose and hosing them off the plant. Or, you can use a little Ivory Soap in water and give the milkweed a “bath”. Happy Gardening, Doug

    • Charlotte,
      Good question on pruning. I am one that suggests pruning ONLY if needed. I guess I believe in letting a plant grow naturally. With this said however, sometimes pruning is suggested. As for the Crepe myrtle… the best time to prune is when it is in a dormant state which is this winter. I recommend only rounding up the head and maybe thinning out some of the weaker branches. Please don’t create “CRAPE MURDER” – this is when you see the crape myrtle trees cut back severely and the trunks look like deer antlers. This is terrible practice in pruning.
      As for pruning hydrangea… the proper time to prune depends on the variety and family type of hydrangea. Some hydrangeas, like the macrophylla that blooms blue, should only be pruned right after they finish blooming in the late spring. The Macrophylla hydrangea has already set their bloom wood for next spring. Pruning now would cut off this bloom wood and you will not have any blooms next spring. The Paniculata family of hydrangea is a summer bloomer. These are the ones that are in bloom right now. The Paniculata hydrangeas bloom off of new growth. The proper time to prune is this winter when it goes dormant.

      I hope my answers are not too confusing. If so, get back in touch or give me a call. Happy Gardening, Doug

  5. We have raised bed gardens for our community in which we grew tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, herbs, squash, zinnias, and lantana. When we pull out these plants, should we amend the soil in the raised beds this fall, or wait until spring? I wondered if it would be good to add lime and/or composted manure.

    • Carol,
      Great timely question. And, I applaud you for having raised garden beds for the community. Before putting these raised gardens to bed for the winter, have you considered growing fall vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, collards, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, etc. Now is the perfect time to do so. These leafy vegetables love the cooler temperatures that are on our horizon. Just a thought to share.
      If you are ready to “winterize” these beds then I would suggest using some cow manure and leaf compost and work these products into the existing soil. then I would use mulch as a top dressing for the winter. This mulch will protect the soil and then will decompose over the winter adding even more organic matter to the soil. Doug

  6. Oh no! I just read it’s too early to plant Tulip bulbs and I already planted some! Will they not come up? Will they die? Should I dig them up? Thanks!

    • Amy,
      I agree with the fact that it is early to be planting tulip bulbs. The reason being is that tulips like cooler soils to live and thrive in. Here in September our soil temperature is warm. We recommend buying the tulip bulbs now while the selection is good but to hold off on actually planting until closer to Thanksgiving. Because tulips need the cooler soil temperatures it is very important to plant them 10″ to 12″ deep in the soil. I hope you planted your bulbs this deep. If you don’t plant the tulip bulbs deep then there is now assurance that they will perennialize and come back year and year.If you didn’t plant them deep then you may want to consider digging them up and re-planting. Good to hear from you, Doug

  7. I have very rocky clay soil. Can you please provide guidance on starting a raised bed for fall veggies? Should the bottom be lined? What kind of soil should be used? Are there vegetables that should/should not be planted together? Thanks in advance from a beginner wanting to get into gardening!

    • G,
      Good Morning and good to hear from you. With most raised garden beds you do want to place a weed fabric inside the raised bed frame. As for the soil – you do want to use a soil that is lighter than just top soil. We sell a soil that is specifically blended for raised garden beds. As for vegetables – right now you can plant most cool season vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, etc. all together in the same bed. They all like the same environment. Come see us when you are ready and we would love the opportunity to work with you on all your needs. Doug

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