By Jo Ann Nicholas
After a long, hot and dry summer, September has finally arrived and with it the anticipation of cool, crisp days. With the drought we have experienced we may not have the beautiful colors we look forward to each fall, which will be disappointing. May the rain we so desperately need come soon.
This is a great time to evaluate our gardens for next spring. I have found some of my hardiest plants through the summer have been the periwinkles, angelonias — in hues of white, pink and purple, which is a favorite of mine — lantanas and some of the newer cultivars of sun coleus in a variety of colors.
Fall is a great time to plant many ornamentals, and as temperatures begin to cool we can plant cool-season annuals such as pansies, ornamental cabbage or kale, snapdragons and dusty miller. Begin to choose spring flowering bulbs as soon as they are available, although wait until cooler temperatures before planting. Remember to continue to water unless we have sufficient rain fall soon.
Watch for any late infestations of tree webworms so they can be controlled. Twig girdler insects also should be controlled if large numbers of small branches of elms, pecans or persimmons are uniformly girdled from the tree and fall to the ground.
Begin to reduce the amount of light on outside tropical houseplants by placing them under shade trees before bringing them indoors for the winter.
We have all of this month to plant cool-season vegetables such as spinach, leaf lettuce, mustard and radishes and until the middle of the month to plant rutabagas, swiss chard, garlic and turnips.
Our lawns need special attention in September. Apply by the 15th the last nitrogen fertilizer application of the year on warm-season grasses such as bermuda. Winter broadleaf weeds like dandelions will begin to emerge later this month. This is the best time to control them with a 2,4-D type herbicide. Apply appropriate soil insecticide if white grubs are a problem and water the product into the soil. Now also is the time for pre-emergent control of winter-annual weeds.
Fall is the best time to establish cool-season lawns, so plan to seed bluegrass, fescue or ryegrass as needed in shady areas beginning mid-September and continuing through October.
Temperatures become too cold in November and December for germination and establishment. The second-best time to seed cool-season grasses is in March. Fall planting is superior because there is more time for the plant to develop before the heat and drought conditions of summer. Fertilization of these grasses should be done later in September and again in November.
It is time for the hummingbirds to begin their migration south, so clean and put away the feeders. Those in migration still have our flowers to nourish them on their way.
If you have questions please call the Garfield County Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Office at 237-1228, as master gardeners are there to assist you, or go to the Garfield County Extension website at http://oces.okstate. edu/garfield, where a wealth of information is available.
Enjoy this month as well as the rest of the palette of fall time as we prepare for next year’s garden.
Nicholas is a member of Garfield County Master Gardeners.