Pacific Northwest

September, 2008
Regional Report

Coax Poinsettias into Bloom

Mid-September is the time to bring poinsettia plants indoors and condition them to bloom by providing total darkness for about 16 hours each day. The method I prefer is to set the plant in a bright room for 8 hours and then either put a box over it or put it in a closet for 16 hours. In early December, when the leaf bracts begin to show color, stop the conditioning process and leave the plant in a bright location.

Replace Lawn with Ground Cover

Check your yard for bare places around trees, the house, or the garage where the grass refuses to grow. These shady areas, whether dry or damp, may be candidates for ground covers. Ground covers are available for wet or dry sites, shady or sunny areas, steep slopes and culverts. Their low growth habit, sprawling nature, and adaptability can make ground covers the unifying element of a totally integrated landscape. Pachysandra, mondo grass, liriope, vinca, euonymus, and Virginia creeper are a few of the many choices available to gardeners.

Divide Perennials

Late-summer is a great time to divide your perennials. Perennials should be divided about every three to five years, depending on type. If you have extras, share them with your friends and neighbors. It's also a great time to plant new perennials, shrubs, and trees. Cooler temperatures and abundant rainfall will help new plants establish quickly.

Plant Cool-Season Pansies

September is the time to plant pansies. The rule of thumb is to plant them after September 15, when the weather cools. If you plant too soon and the weather is too hot, pansies will become leggy. Plant them in a well-drained, sunny location.

Move Houseplants Indoors

Valuable houseplants that have summered outdoors should be groomed and prepared for their return indoors. I bring mine indoors each evening and take them back outside each morning, gradually shortening their outdoor time and increasing the time they spend indoors. After two weeks or so, they're ready to remain inside full-time. Some species exhibit leaf loss or browning of leaf edges after being moved indoors. This is usually temporary and improves after plants adjust to lower light and humidity levels indoors.

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