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September Garden Calendar


Searcy, Ark. –

Who knows what the fall and winter will be like, but we are heading into the fall season in better shape than expected. Lawns have greened up again, plants are perking up and vegetable gardens are still producing. September usually brings us a first taste of fall-like weather, but overall, we are typically still hot and dry. Last year, September marked the beginning of a dry spell.

Pay attention to what the weather throws at us and be prepared to water as needed. Keep in mind that spring blooming plants are finishing up setting blooms for next year now, and we want them healthy and happy as they head into winter.

Vegetable Garden Tips

Vegetable gardens are often also in flux. Some gardeners are still harvesting with regularity while other gardens have totally played out. If your garden is still good, keep harvesting and gradually begin to fill in the blanks with fall vegetables. If your garden is a lost cause, practice good sanitation and clean it up and begin to replant for fall.

Many edible gardeners are now gardening year-round with limited winter protection, including high tunnels or just moderate frost protection. We should see vegetable transplants arriving at local outlets soon. If you can find some new tomato plants, they can also continue to bear until a killing frost. You can seed carrots, lettuce, spinach, kale, and other greens now. Mulch any new plantings and be prepared to water.

Disease Issues on Some Ornamentals

Recent rains, following dry conditions have caused some disease issues on some ornamentals. Leaf spot diseases and mildew have been a common problem on many plants late in the season. I doubt you will find many hydrangeas without a spot here and there, or peonies dying back, or spots on dogwood leaves. Don’t worry and don’t start a spray program this late in the season. For now, rake up any fallen, damaged leaves, cut back perennials as they die back, water if dry and mulch. Perennials that have started dying back are heading into dormancy and will return next spring. That includes peonies, lilies, and bleeding hearts. Trees and shrubs with damaged foliage should be monitored for leaf fall. Once that begins, rake it up, clean it up, and start fresh next spring.

Don’t prune trees and shrubs now, especially spring bloomers, as they have set their flower buds for next spring.

Weed Control

For some reason hot, dry conditions don’t seem to hurt our weed crop like they do desirable plants. In the lawn, it is too late to worry about herbicide usage, but mowing can help prevent seed set. In flower beds and vegetable gardens, attack with a good sharp hoe. If allowed to grow unchecked, the seeds they leave behind will cause problems for years to come.

Ornamental Tips

Summer annuals and flowering tropical plants may need a bit of fertilizer now to keep blooming until frost. All the rains we had, cut down on our watering duties, but they still leached out the nutrition in the soil and particularly in containers. Fertilization will keep them blooming better. If your summer annuals haven’t survived, it is a bit too early to plant pansies and violas, but you can plant marigolds, ornamental peppers and begin planting ornamental (and edible) kale, mustard, and cabbage.

Annuals aren’t the only way to add flower color. Summer perennials are still going strong with Echinacea, rudbeckia, and gaillardia, but to add to the mix the fall perennials are starting a show with Chelone (turtlehead), Tricyrtis (toad lilies) and Japanese anemones, for the shade and goldenrod, asters, and salvias for the sun. We are beginning to see good plumes on ornamental grasses as well.

Chrysanthemums will soon be available at garden centers! While they are perennials, many gardeners do grow them as annuals. Pumpkins and gourds are also popping up and spring blooming bulbs for fall planting are beginning to make an appearance. You can buy your bulbs now, but let it cool off a bit before planting. Large, firm bulbs will give you the best display next spring. If you have room in your refrigerator you can pre-chill the bulbs before planting, but that isn’t a requirement.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. For more information you can contact your local county extension service, you can also follow Sherri Sanders on Facebook @UADA.WhiteCountyAgriculture


By Sherri Sanders
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
2400 Old Searcy Landing Road Searcy, AR 72143
(501) 268-5394


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.