Your Regional Garden News - Zone 9

September 1 to September 30


Discover what you should be doing right now.  Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.  

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It might be hot as blazes out there, but if you wait until the end of the month you might feel a refreshing and wonderful chill in the evening air. Well, maybe not an actual chill, but an evening breeze of warm air beats a blast of hot air any day. It means that cooler weather will soon be upon us and next month we can finally start seeds of cool-season annuals and vegetables. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to keep your garden productive and beautiful as our summer draws to a close.


    Plant corn for fall harvest

    Some say that growing corn just isn’t worth it in states like Florida and California. It’s not that they’re pessimists, it’s just that because corn requires such inordinate amounts of water, pesticides and fertilizer that it might just be cheaper to buy them at the grocery store. Those naysayers probably haven’t considered growing corn in containers. Burpee’s new ‘On Deck’ hybrid sweet corn is short enough to be grown in pots, which is a huge advantage because it gives you more efficient control over pest removal, watering and fertilizing. Corn is usually harvested in summer up north, but here in the subtropics it’s generally best to plant it at the end of summer so that the ears will mature when things aren’t so buggy. ‘On Deck’ is also ideal for garden beds and its short stature ensures that keeping them free of pests will be somewhat easier.

  • Plant an easy flowerbed to last all year

    If you’re just dipping your black thumb and toes into the garden this year, the flower choices can seem a bit bewildering. Our warm winters and hot summers make things even more complicated since none of the planting times in books written for the rest of the country really apply here. If you’d rather not try to wrap your head around our cool-season and warm-season planting times just yet, try these foolproof perennials and annuals to build your confidence. Marigolds are a favorite in children’s gardens because they’re fast and easy to bloom, and you can pull the seeds out of spent flowerheads and spread around the garden as casually as you’d blow on a feathery puff of dandelion seeds. Gaillardias (Blanketflowers) are native wildflowers of orange, red and yellow, and they’re so tough that you can find them growing on the sand dunes of Florida beaches. Best of all, they will bloom all year long. Coleus is usually grown for its colorful and heavily patterned leaves, which guarantees solid masses of color even when they’re not blooming. They’ll usually bounce back from a frost, but are so quick to grow from seed that you might as well grow them as annuals anyways.

  • Storm-proof your garden

    Hurricane season is upon us, and severe thunderstorms are always a threat to your garden. The good news is that there are things that you can do to lessen the risk of damage; be it wind or flooding. Most importantly, you should always keep an eye on the health of your trees and shrubs since they have the potential to do a lot of damage to you or your home in the event of a fallen limb. You can get young plantings started right by pruning out branches that are either diseased, crossing or dead; as well as any main branches that make a v-shape at their joint, as these are especially prone to breaking. You may need a pole saw or the help of a tree surgeon for larger trees, but it’s well worth it compared to the cost you’d pay for a fallen tree. Tall perennials and vegetables can be given extra support for windy days with the help of cages, poles and trellises. To ensure good drainage in areas prone to puddling or flooding during storms, build a raised bed or buy a kit to keep your plants from suffocating and rotting.

  • Design your dream garden

    Nobody has the perfect yard, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t create your ideal garden. All it takes is a little bit of optimism and planning, and now is the ideal time to daydream since by the end of the month the evenings will be cool enough for you to break ground. Start by evaluating your yard and taking note of the potential problems and assets that will come to shape your garden. For example, you might have a section of the yard that stays soggy. You can choose to fix the problem by making raised beds or embrace it by planting moisture-lovers that can take wet feet - like gingers, cannas and daylilies.

    Once you understand what you’re working with, mentally divide your yard into zones; shady or sunny, wet or dry, lawn or garden. Start daydreaming about all of the things you’d like to accomplish. Is growing vegetables a priority, or do you have your heart set on a flower cutting garden? Would you rather have a lawn or a meadow of wildflowers? There is no wrong answer and it’s all up to you. Once you’ve determined your garden’s potential and what you’d like to accomplish, the rest will fall into place.


    Plant flowers for fall color

    In September you have the choice of enjoying a few more months of warm-season flowers or holding out until next month to plant cool-season flowers that will last through winter. Why not do both? Since we don’t get much in the way of colorful fall foliage down here, plant flowers that will do the job instead. ‘Sriracha Rose’ and ‘Sriracha Violet’ cupheas are also known as bat-face cupheas for their flowers that look suspiciously like bats in flight, and they’re a no-brainer for Halloween displays. For more traditional fall flowers, look no further than Solidago and mums. Solidago is also known as goldenrod and has unfairly gotten a bad rap for causing allergies, but rest assured that they’re nothing to sneeze at – they are free of allergens and full of rich golden color for the fall border. Garden mums are as synonymous with autumn as pumpkin pie and jack-o-lanterns and they do just fine in our fall gardens as annuals.

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • Order bare-root roses now for planting from mid to late fall. When the plants arrive, select a spot where the soil is well drained and add lots of organic matter such as compost, leaf humus and peat moss to the soil before planting. Spread out roots in the planting hole, fill with soil, and water well. Mound up mulch around base of roses for added winter protection and continue watering until the ground freezes.