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Gardening with Wanda: Fall is transition time for gardens
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September brings change and the anticipation of a reprieve from these hot, dry days of summer to cooler fall weather. This is still a busy month for the gardener with many enjoyable endeavors to find in the garden.

Flowers

There are still many flowers (annuals and perennials that are blooming). Many look tired and dry due to the hot days this summer. If you have perennials like Shasta daisy, black-eyed Susan and coneflower, cut off the brown dead flowers and foliage. This will neaten up the plant and possibly cause a new flush of flowers before the first frost.

If you have flowers like zinnias, cosmos, marigolds and sunflowers, gather up the seeds and store them in a cool dry place. Plant them in next year's spring garden for a beautiful cutting flower bed.

Take cuttings from tender plants such as coleus and salvia to root indoors for next year. These plants root easily in clean potting soil. Fertilize salvia and fall chrysanthemums with liquid plant food. This will insure lots of colorful blooms later this fall.

Now is the time to divide daylily, iris and monkey grass. Share with a gardening neighbor or replant in other locations throughout your landscape. With weeks of warm weather left, these plants will have time to establish good root growth.

Roses love the cooler months and now is the time to deadhead spent blooms to get a new flush of flowers. Fertilize them again this month and use a fungicide if you see black spot on the leaves. Watch for aphids and spray with insecticidal soap if needed.

Also, now is the time to get some great deals on leftover inventory at your local garden centers. Remember good drainage and full sun is a must for a beautiful rose bush.

Trees and shrubs

Cooler weather on the horizon means it is a great time to select and plant new trees and shrubs. Studies indicate that planting shrubs and trees in the fall will give the plant a full growing season advantage over those planted in the spring. The root systems will grow stronger in the fall on newly planted shrubs and trees.

Select the right plant for the right site, meaning make sure its soil, sun and size requirements are met before you plant. Site selection is vital to the life and hardiness of a plant.

Do not prune shrubs and trees this month. Wait until the winter months to prune most of your shrubs and trees while they are in their dormant stage. Watch your plants for pests and disease problems and give us a call if you have any concerns.

When planting, remember watering and mulching is still important during this month. September and October are usually dry and many plants will need regular watering to help and maintain new root growth.

Plant a beautiful camellia in your yard for winter blooming. There are two types of camellias that grace our Southern gardens. The first is the early winter blooming sasanqua and the japonica blooms in late winter and early spring. Both are beautiful additions to your landscape.

Vegetable gardens

Continue to harvest your warm season vegetables, like peppers, okra and tomatoes. These warm season crops will produce up until the first frost.

If you need the room for your fall veggies, now is a good time to clean up your beds and amend the soil. Add fertilizer and lime requirements, with some good organic compost and you are ready to plant your cool season vegetable garden. You can plant seeds now or wait until the end of the month and set out broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower transplants.

Call the extension for a complete list of fall vegetables you can plant now and what their requirements are for a beautiful and tasty winter garden.

Lawns

The best time to fertilize a fescue lawn is in the month of September. This cool season turf needs fertilizer also in November, February and April. Any turf type fertilizer can be used.

If planting a new fescue lawn, gardening expert Walter Reeves recommends using 6 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet. Over seeding is best during September through November.

Sodding can also be done now. Broadcast a winter pre-emergent weed control this month. This will control chickweed and other winter weeds from sprouting.

Fertilization for Bermuda lawn also needs to be done this month. The window of time for seeding and reseeding has past. This should be done in the summer months. You can still sod Bermuda in now, but after this month, success is marginal. Broadcast a winter pre-emergent weed control now to control winter weeds.

September is still full of opportunities to get outdoors and spruce up your existing plants and add some new ones. You can check out a wide range of perennials, shrubs and trees at the annual Hall County Master Gardener Fall Plant Expo on Sept 23-24 at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center.

Thanks to the Georgia Gardening Regional Report and Walter Reeves gardening calendar.

Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.

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