Changing Poinsettias' Color
When night temperatures become cool, 55F to 60F, bring the poinsettias indoors to a sunny location. Beginning about now they need to be in complete darkness from about 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily to form their flower color. Place a cardboard box over the plant or put it in a closet during those hours to fool the plant into thinking that the days have become shorter. This will induce a bloom response in time for the holidays. Continue the procedure for about 6 weeks.
Planting Fall Greens
Fall greens such as lettuce, spinach, Chinese cabbage, mustard, and Swiss chard hate hot weather and warm soil conditions. Sow seeds of these plants indoors this month for transplanting outdoors in October. This will give you a jump on the season. Provide the seeds with a cool location indoors under grow lights. When they sprout, move them to a very bright area to prevent the seedlings from becoming spindly.
Planning a Wildflower Garden
Now is the time to plan your wildflower garden and get the spot ready for planting in late September or October. Remember that most wildflowers love sun and good drainage. Lightly till the soil to loosen it and improve germination. Seed the area with your wildflower mix, water it well and keep the weeds pulled until the wildflowers get established.
Control Pests on Outdoor Houseplants
Houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors often bring pests inside when they are brought in for the winter. Check them over and get rid of pests like mites, aphids, scale, and mealybugs while they are still outdoors. Insecticidal soap or a horticultural oil sprayed on plants outside before they move indoors is often enough to clean up these pests.
Collect seeds from nonhybrid annuals and perennials such as zinnias and calendula that are going to seed. Seeds from hybrids don\'t produce offspring true to type. Seeds should be spread on a newspaper for a week to allow them to dry thoroughly and then stored in an airtight glass jar. For maximum storage life, put the jar in the refrigerator - or, better yet, the freezer.