* Start the Labor Day weekend by re-potting all houseplants that have not been re-potted since last year. Some folks like to mix fresh soil with the old soil when re-potting. However, I recommend tossing the old soil onto the compost pile since it most likely contains an accumulation of salts from past fertilizer applications.
* Fertilize plants in flower boxes, patio pots and other containers. This should be the last fertilizer application needed for container plants this season, unless September is unusually mild and plants continue to show vigorous growth. Normally, growth of plants in containers slows as the nights are cooler and the days are shorter. The same rule applies to houseplants, whose growth is also slowing.
* Harvest leeks as needed, but leave the rest in the garden to continue growing. However, be aware that allium leaf miner has become a serious pest of leeks and other members of the onion family. Waiting too long to harvest could result in loss of the crop. Therefore, try to complete the harvest by mid-October. The harvest season may be extended beyond that date by covering the crop now with a floating row cover. This will prevent leaf miner flies from laying their eggs in the leaves of the leeks.
* Fertilize lawns this week. Follow directions on the bag of fertilizer for the proper setting of the lawn spreader, or calculate the amount of fertilizer needed based on a rate of one pound actual nitrogen per thousand square feet of lawn area. Studies have shown that if you make only one annual fertilizer application, the best time to do it is in early September.
* Dig a hole! Plant a tree or shrub or both. This is a great time for planting as soils are warm enough to promote root growth but the shorter days and cooler temperatures inhibit shoot growth. Also, these plants will direct their stored food reserves to root growth rather shoot growth. Water the plants right after planting and apply mulch around but not in contact with the tree trunk or shrub stems.
Over the years I’ve tried to plant every type of spring flowering bulb that is hardy to these parts. Though all were beautiful, I soon found that some bulbs were naturally short-lived, lasting only a few years. Others didn’t care for my shallow, coarse, drought-prone soils and some disappeared into the bowels of the local deer and rodent population. Though it wasn’t meant to be a competition, the clear-cut winner in this survival contest was the daffodil. As such, my bulb-planting preferences have been trending more toward daffodils than other bulbs. The fact that there are so many new varieties makes them even more appealing. The variations in color, flower form, plant height, and fragrance should satisfy most gardeners. Spring flowering bulbs will soon be appearing on the shelves of local garden centers. So, decide what area of the landscape could use some clumps or drifts of daffodils and put aside a few $$ to buy an assortment.