Buy your Bulbs
If you haven’t bought your bulbs yet, you need to get your skates on or you may find that your favourites have sold out. Having said that, if you are not too particular about varieties, you can wait and take advantage of the big discounts that are offered towards the end of the bulb planting season. Although I’ve ordered my bulbs already, I nearly always succumb to some extras – and then have even more to plant. With the exception of tulips, all bulbs are best planted as soon as you receive them. Tulips are better left until November – in the meantime store them in a cool dry place to keep them in good condition. As a general rule of thumb, plants bulbs at twice or three times the height of the bulb.
When cutting dahlias or zinnias for the vase or deadheading spent flowers, cut down to the nearest leaf joint to encourage more blooms.
Saving & Sewing for the Future
Annual flowers set seed this month. You can save money and get a head start by collecting seed from your favourite varieties and sowing it while it is fresh. Choose a bright dry day and go out with a handful of brown paper bags, cut off the seedheads and pop them into a bag. This will prevent the loose seed being lost. Be sure to write the variety and date on the bag. Sow seed thinly in the borders or onto pots of fresh seed compost. I tend to sow in pots as the young plants don’t overwinter well on my very light soil. Save the surplus seed for a second sowing in the spring (to extend the flowering season) or if you have more than you need, give some to friends. Once the seeds have germinated, wait until they have their first proper set of leaves and thin them out if sown direct or if grown undercover, pot them on into individual cells to overwinter in a cool greenhouse or coldframe.
With so much focus on the new season, don’t neglect the current one. Continue watering and liquid feeding to keep the garden productive and looking good.
Deal with the Evil Weevil
If vine weevil is a problem in your garden, September is the time to get it sorted by applying a drench containing nematodes. Where plants have semi-circular bites on the edges of the leaves, or a pot grown plant suddenly keels over and dies, it’s likely that vine weevils are responsible. Vine weevils are not so much of a problem for plants growing in the soil – I have a hydrangea that is munched annually – but vine weevils are life-threatening for potted plants. Unfortunately they often arrive in the garden from commercial nurseries and are most commonly found on cyclamen and polyanthus – it’s a case of buyer beware.
Peg down new shoots of blackberries, tayberries and loganberries so that they can root and make new plants. Leave attached to parent plant until fully rooted.
Plant clematis this month so that they can get their roots well down into the soil before winter. Plant them where they will have their heads in the sun and their roots in the shade.