Let’s Talk About September 2018*

By: Pat Cordray
This month might not be cooler but to me the month of September stands for “cooler temperatures ahead”.  We are almost at the end of the heat and there is hope, although small, that we could actually have a “fall”.  September also brings in a new gardening season.  This is the kind of gardening with the word “fall” in front of it.  So, we get to plant cooler weather vegetables,  fall flowers, wildflowers and other early spring flowers, and hummingbird nectar plants, yay!  We still need to talk about watering, again.  Wow!! That’s a lot of gardening. Let’s get started.
Durango Marigold

September gardening includes: watering, vegetable gardening, fall flowers, growing flowers from seed, and plants for hummingbirds.

First on our list is watering.  You know you need to water, you know the plants need water.  Sooooo, water.  Once we get cooler temperatures you can back off, a little, but as long as it is hot and dry watering is essential.  New plantings are the most at risk.  Their roots are confined to a small area, so they are dependent on you to supply water right where the roots are.  Just enough water to keep the roots moist is enough, there should not be water running down the street. Once established, sprinklers are fine.

Floral Lace Dianthus

If your garden isn’t ready, that’s okay, it’s not too late.  Get your garden ready now, its time to add a few more cool weather vegetables. Fall vegetable gardening includes the following plants; Beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, cucumbers, mustard greens, squash, Swiss chard, and turnips. Don’t over plant your garden. Sun, water, well draining soil and a little fertilizer are musts for success in the garden.  Plant what you love to eat.


Planting fall flowers is a great way to freshen up your landscape.  Many of your summer favorites will still be blooming like crazy, so add fall flowers around these plants.  favorites will still be blooming like crazy, so add fall flowers around these plants.  If you have lost plants replace them with fall flowers instead of summer color.   Don’t fill in all the holes right away, leave spaces for other cool weather flowers as they become available.  First up are, lobelia, marigold, dianthus, celosia, chrysanthemums, alyssum, calendula, petunia, stock, and snapdragons.  I can see great fall color is on the way!  If you love snapdragons, now is the time to plant, don’t wait until spring, do it now and you’ll have flowers until it gets too hot next year.  A little later in the month violas, ornamental kale & cabbage, phlox and bellis are usually available.  Lots of pretty options for your garden.

Linden and her bluebonnet friends

If you are interested in planting flowers from seed, September is the time.  Plant seeds for bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, coreopsis, larkspur, gaillardia, purple coneflower, gaura, black-eyed Susans, poppies, nasturtiums, hollyhocks, and sweet peas.   Once you make your selection of seed don’t store them in the car, it is too hot and will damage your seed.  Read the seed packet and follow the instructions on how to plant.  Inspect your seeds before you plant; broken seeds will not germinate.  I like to soak my seeds overnight in warm water (not hot)  to speed up germination.  Plant your seed in the ground or in containers.  Raised beds and well draining containers work best.   Mix a little worm castings in the soil where you are planting your seed and sprinkle a little Wildroot Organic, a blend of mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial bacteria, this helps the seedling with getting water and nutrients.  Once the seeds are planted water gently, you don’t want to wash your seeds away,  and keep the soil moist.  Once the seedling has its true leaves it is time to fertilize.  Microlife is great for fertilizing any of your plants and it won’t burn your seedlings.

Fire Bush

Have you noticed all the hummingbirds in our area?  If you haven’t maybe you should plant for them.  They migrate through our area August – October and they could use our help.  Hummingbirds have to visit a ton of flowers to get the nectar they need each day.  Make it easier for them and plant flowers in drifts, they won’t have to fly too far in between flowers.  Flowers like: lantana, coneflower, zinnia, salvia/sage, milkweed, pentas, porterweed, and shrimp plant, Texas betony usually have tons of blooms this time of year.  Other plants to consider are russelia, cigar plant, flame acanthus, canna, abutilon,  cestrum, fire bush,  bird of paradise, cape honeysuckle, cypress vine (well maybe not this one), flame vine, passion vine, trumpet creeper, bottlebrush, butterfly bush, pineapple guava, hibiscus, lavender, orchid tree, pink powder puff, and Texas sage.  All of these hummingbird friendly plants are easy to grow, have tons of blooms and can easily fit in most landscapes. Before you plant check the mature size of the plants, some of these can be quite large.   Of all of these plants, milkweed adds a little more.  Milkweed is almost always covered with aphids.  Some gardeners wouldn’t want it in their garden.  But, because milkweed has aphids it attracts other insects that eat aphids and those insects provide protein for hummingbirds.  So, those aphids are a good thing.  Finally, if you want hummingbirds, or any wildlife, in your garden don’t use insecticides, herbicides, or any chemicals.  Keep your garden safe for our bird friends and it will be safe for you too.

Enjoy your garden,