In The Garden – September-October gardening tips

Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle.


• Now is a great time to plant perennials and roses. Add a slow-release fertilizer. Make sure these are well watered before and after planting.

• Add color to your garden and containers with cool weather annuals.

• Buy spring-flowering bulbs, but don’t plant these until the soil temperature drops below 60 degrees – usually in November. Store the bulbs in the refrigerator until then.

• Deadhead roses and water weekly. Clean up debris in the rose bed.

Fruits and Vegetables

• Plant fall vegetables—mustard greens, onions, radishes, turnips and more—in September.

• Plant fruit tress and blueberries now.

• Try planting vegetables in containers so you have easy access to them.


• September is when tall fescue and bluegrass lawns should be seeded. Mulch newly seeded bare-ground areas with wheat or barley straw. Keep watered.

• Apply pre-emergent herbicides when the temperature drops below 50 degrees. Do not apply herbicides on newly planted grass.

• Watch for the emergence of cool season weeds. Two of the worst are wild onion and wild garlic. Hand pulling is often ineffective. Digging is more effective and chemical control is another method.

Trees and Shrubs

• Limit pruning woody plants until they acclimate to the cooler season. Pruning now will encourage new growth. Prune only for minor shaping of the plant.

• This is an ideal time to plant trees and shrubs. Keep these watered when the weather is dry. Protect young plants if you have deer by caging the plant or using a repellent.

• Premature fall color or premature leaf drop could be a sign of stress. Determine the cause of the stress – injury, lack of water, poor nutrients – and remedy accordingly.


• A number of insects start to make an appearance now, including fall webworms, fall armyworms, azalea stem borers, and two-spotted spider mites.

• Control scale and mealy bugs with horticultural oil. Try a proactive treatment 3-4 times a year on trees and shrubs to prevent this.

• Prune out and remove disease-infested branches and dispose of them so the disease doesn’t infect next year’s growth.

• Fire ants begin to forage again with the cooler weather. Once they are in this stage you can apply bait around the mound. If they are not foraging then they won’t take the bait. Save your money.

For a complete list of garden maintenance activities, visit the NC Cooperative Extension web site at

For lawn care go to the NC State Turf Files at