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September starts the best gardening season

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September can be the beginning of the best time to garden in Northwest Florida.

Container-grown trees and shrubs can be planted now or later in the season. Some natives with good fall foliage include American beech, hickory, sassafras, Florida red maple, oakleaf hydrangea and Elliott blueberry. Of course we often have to wait until December for the peak of fall color and even then the extent and depth of color depends on the amount of rain and cold weather we have before then. For colorful berries, plant American beautyberry, yaupon holly or American holly. If you plan to transplant trees and shrubs this winter, while they are dormant, you should root prune them now.

Plant paperwhite narcissus, snowflakes (Leucojum vernum), Easter lilies, Madonna lilies (Lilium candidum), amaryllis bulbs and Louisiana iris. Divide and replant overgrown clumps of perennials that have finished blooming. Lift and divide daylilies. To separate irises, dig and cut the foliage back to three inches and allow the rhizomes to air dry for a few days before replanting. Plant petunias and dianthus.

Try something new when choosing perennials for planting this fall. Some fall–blooming perennials to try include lion’s ear (Leonotis leonurus), which has bright orange flowers; cigar flower, (Cuphea micropetala), which has orange flowers shaped like tiny cigars, tipped with yellow; Phillipine violet (Barleria cristata) which blooms with a profusion of dark lavender flowers and firespike, (Odontonema strictum), a four to five foot plant topped with tubular red flowers. Ornamental grasses are also good additions to the fall garden. Muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris, is a native, with pinkish-purple flower heads.

Pull up and throw away summer vegetable plants that have finished producing. Don’t till them into the soil. You could end up spreading diseases. Add organic soil amendments such as compost or well-chopped leaves. Anything you add should be well composted and thoroughly mixed into the soil.

Plant fall vegetables now, including broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collards, endive, escarole, leeks, turnips, radishes, mustard, beets, kale and green onions. Wait until next month to plant strawberries.

If your lawn is developing areas that yellow and then turn brown, and you cannot find any sign of insect pests, then the problem may be a fungus disease, particularly if you have been over-watering. Closely examine the grass blades to see if they appear to be rotting off where they’re attached to the stem. If so, a fungus disease is a good possibilit

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County, September 17, 2015

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