Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Northern & Central Midwest

September, 2000
Regional Report

Take Cuttings of Annuals

Take tip and stem cuttings of annuals such as geraniums, impatiens, coleus, and dusty miller before your first frost. Cut a 4- to 6-inch piece, dip it in rooting hormone, and stick in a flat of sterile potting soil or vermiculite. Cover with clear plastic and wait for roots to form (usually a few weeks). Pot them up and put in a bright spot out of direct sun.

Get Ready for Frost

Even if your first frost is still only a dream, get blankets, boxes, and cloches ready just in case the temperature suddenly drops below 35F. Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are easily harmed at low temperatures, even if it doesn't drop below freezing. The Indian summer days we often have after a first dip in temperatures will keep the produce ripening and growing.

Bring In Houseplants

Start bringing in houseplants that have summered outdoors. Don't wait until the last minute before a frost is predicted to madly scramble about protecting plants. Check houseplants carefully for insects and spray them with horticultural oil before bringing them in, just in case you miss a wayward scale or whitefly larva.

Plant Spring Bulbs

Time to begin planting bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. Planting in September, especially in cold areas, allows them plenty of time to establish their roots before the ground freezes. Plant bulbs two to three times as deep as the diameter of the bulb, and be sure to put the root end (flat end) down. Add a little bulb fertilizer in each hole to help with root growth.

Christmas Cactus Care

Leave Christmas cactus outdoors until the night temperatures drop to 40F. The cooler weather causes the plants to develop flower buds. As soon as the temperatures drop below 40F, move it indoors to a cool, bright spot. Keep it watered, but don't bring it into a warm room until after it blooms to prevent flower bud drop.


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