From the Garden with Laura Bullock for September, 2021

September’s gardening hints include bringing houseplants indoors after a summer in the sun, hummingbirds, and Montauk (Nippon) daisies—a great autumn perennial.

Bringing houseplants back inside for the winter

Courtesy image

The summer season is coming to a close for us in New England and that means ‘vacation’ time is ending for your houseplants that have been enjoying time outside on the deck.  In early September it’s a good idea to start transitioning your plants to their inside winter digs.  The shorter days and cooler nights will signal insects to seek a warm safe place to overwinter, so bring those pots in sooner rather than later.  Give the leaves and stems a thorough inspection and check the pots and soil to make sure no strays hitch a ride into your home.    This link gives an extensive explanation on how to debug your plants depending on the critters you may find: https://salisburygreenhouse.com/7-proven-techniques-for-debugging-your-houseplants/

If your houseplants have been outdoors in full sun, try to ease the transition by placing them in a sunny south-facing spot indoors.  If they have become a little large for their pots, repot them using bagged potting soil (not outdoor garden soil).  If you are not planning on repotting them, add a bit of fertilizer to give them a fall boost.  Expect a few leaves will yellow and fall off as they make this change to indoor living  – but have no fear, they will be fine!

Hummingbird Frenzy

Image (c) abcbirds.org

Have you noticed the hummingbirds are extra plentiful right now, zipping, diving, and chasing others away as they vie for a position at the feeder?  In a few short weeks they will be making the journey south so they are fueling up for the long haul.  The lack of daylight is the signal that indicates it’s  time to fly towards Mexico.  Even those that were born this summer somehow have this internal clock and GPS system that guides them towards a warmer climate.

Be sure to refresh your feeders often and expect to see the last of the hummingbirds towards the end of the month.  (Recipe: 4 parts water to 1 part sugar – remember to use white cane sugar – not brown, raw, turbinado, or honey). Wait 2 weeks after the last sighting before bringing in your feeder in case there is a straggler or two.    Clean out the feeders and stow away until next spring.

Montauk (Nippon) Daisy

Image (c) redhousegarden.com

Is it possible to have a daisy, in our zone 5, bloom until a hard frost?  You bet it is!  Not only does the Montauk Daisy produce a wonderful display each fall, but this little workhorse also requires very little attention.

Planted in well-drained soil, it thrives in full sun, dies back to the ground each winter, and requires no fertilization (seriously). A pruning or two in early summer will reap months of rewards with a 3’ x 3’ “shrub” that adds structure in the summer and loads of flowers in the fall.

Plant it behind some small perennial grasses or perennial geraniums to hide any legginess, add in some hardy purple asters, variegated sedum, and try a red twig dogwood in the background for height and contrast.

Our love of gardening doesn’t have to end with summer and this beauty will be help ease the transition towards winter.


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