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Southern Gardening - Potpourri for September

Bring out the red, white and blue flags, and bunting one more time. Labor Day is a national holiday that we celebrate the hard work of those who have made our nation a better place to live and work. Labor Day marks the end of the summer and what used to be the beginning of the school year. So let's get into the garden and see what work (labor) needs to be accomplished for a wonderful garden this fall.

First of all, later this month you will need to cut back spent summer blooming perennials to about 2 inches above the ground, such as coreopsis shasta daisies. Annuals such as vinca usually will not thrive in the fall and need to be taken out. Next, weed, weed, weed as this will give any new plantings of fall annuals/perennials a head start. Now re-fertilize the entire flower bed with Osmocote which should last for about 3 months. At this point have a plan in mind, and make a decision on what new perennials or annuals you will purchase. Peruse garden catalogs for good ideas for flower combinations and color schemes. Of course, it would be a good idea to shop the nurseries and the big box stores to see what plants are available. Utilize seed catalogs to order flower seeds for fall sowing. For instance, seeds such as poppies and cleome should be sown later this month for spring bloom.

Once you have finished cleaning out the beds or pruning back spent perennials, you can always buy beautiful full grown chrysanthemums "to fill in the blanks". These blooms should last 3 or 4 months, and even though a little expensive, you get much bang for you buck. These are also perennials, and can be cut back, repotted, and saved for planting the next year. If left in the ground, they could become invasive.


Dahlias many times are associated with older, Victorian gardens. There are so many varieties, you can not just love one. Let's see, there are 50,000 named cultivars, with 15 festive colors, and 20 diverse forms. Some bloom heads are the size of dinner plates. For more information on dahlias, go to the American Dahlia Society at for information. If you are interested in adding these to your garden, go ahead and order or purchase from a nursery for spring bloom. For us gardeners in Zone 8, once planted they do not have to dug up and protected during winter. These flowers are perennials and also ever blooming. Although they require full sun, in the River Region, they perform better with a little shade. If unsure what varieties do well in our area, The Georgia Dahlia Society suggests a few: 4 ft. tall Danum Meteor (red); Bishop of Llandoff, (red) 3 ft.tall; April Dawn (lavender and white) 4 ft. tall.



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