Prepare Houseplants for the Move Indoors
Just as you acclimated your indoor plants to the outdoors at the beginning of the summer, so you should gradually accustom the plants to less light before you move them indoors. This can reduce the leaf drop that so often occurs when you bring them inside. Move plants into shadier locations on your deck or patio. Stop fertilizing and treat any insect problems. Bring plants in before the night temperatures get too cool. If you wait until the heat is on in the house, the plants will suffer more of a setback.
To multiply hollyhocks, lupines, black-eyed Susans, echinacea, poppies, and other perennials and biennials, cut off the mature seedpods (they will be brown or grey) and pop each one in a labeled envelope. You can sprinkle the seeds around this fall or wait until early spring. Or trade with other gardeners.
Spray Lawn for Grubs
Soon a new population of Japanese beetle larvae, or grubs, will be making a home in the soil of your lawn (if they haven't already) so get ready for a treatment with beneficial nematodes. Reducing the population of grubs now will help reduce the number of beetles feeding on your plants next year. These microscopic nematodes are nontoxic, except to the grubs. You add the nematode mixture to a hose-end sprayer and spray the lawn. The nematodes are usually kept refrigerated so you have to ask for them at the nursery. Or you can order them online.
Save Leaves for Mulch or Compost
Fallen leaves are nature's way of returning nutrients to the soil. Don't bag yours and take them away -- you'll be throwing away free fertilizer! Instead, shred them and add them to vegetable beds, use as a mulch around trees and perennials, or add to your compost pile. Contact your town or county government to see if there's a municipal leaf composting facility, where you can pick up mulch made from leaves gathered from people who don't know they're thowing away a treasure.
Divide and Transplant Perennials
It's a good time to transplant and divide daylilies, bee balm, Siberian iris, rudbeckia, echinacea, yarrow, and the best time to move peonies. Water plants the day before transplanting. Slide through large clumps of daylilies with a spade and dig up a section of the clump for replanting. the other plants pull apart more easily to make divisions. Replant peonies so the eyes (buds) at the base are 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. Set the others at the same depth they were previously planted. Water well and mulch the soil.