September Tips: Southern California

September marks the beginning of the fall planting season -- a busy time of year for lucky warm-climate gardeners.


Enlarge Image Pre-chill hyacinth bulbs in the refrigerator to simulate winter.
  • For best selection, buy bulbs as soon as they appear at the garden center. Most spring-blooming bulbs, such as tulips, hyacinths, and crocuses, will need to be pre-chilled in the fridge for 6-8 weeks to "fake" winter before planting outdoors.
  • Plant beds with cool-season flowers, such as pansies, calendula, candytuft, foxgloves, snapdragons, stock, and sweet alyssum.
  • Also plant cool-season veggies, such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflowers, lettuces and greens, potatoes, radishes, and peas.

Dividing and Planting Perennials -- Divide or plant perennials now that bloom in spring or early and mid-summer.

Dividing Perennials

Planting Perennials

  • Keep up with watering chores. Weather stays warm this month, so keep up with watering all plants in the ground deeply but infrequently. Established natives will need water only once a month or so. If you know Santa Ana winds are coming, if you can, water thoroughly before they arrive.
  • Dusty leaves are a haven for mites and other sucking insects. Hose down your plants every so often to remove dust and dirt.

Feeding Roses -- Fertilize roses to encourage fall bloom.

Feeding Roses

  • This month continue to fertilize warm-season lawns, such as Bermudagrass, but halt fertilizing of cool-season lawns, such as bluegrass.
  • Fertilize any acid-loving plants and any that may be showing an iron deficiency; for exmaple, young leaves appear yellow-green with dark green leaves. Acid-loving plants include azaleas, gardenias, blueberries, and camellias.

Fertilizing Plants -- Continue to fertilize containers containing annuals and perennials.

Fertilizing Plants

  • Continue to keep up with watering chores. Soak plants in containers well. If you can't keep up or they're wilting anyway, move them to a shadier spot. Also give your compost heap an occasional dousing to promote necessary decomposition; and consider shading the heap to keep it moister longer.
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