What to Plant in September

Trees - all varieties

Shrubs – most varieties

Flowers – Refresh summer beds

Bedding Plants - ageratum, coleus, celosia, zinnia, wax begonia, alyssum, calendula, cleome, cornflower, dianthus, gaillardia, hollyhock, periwinkle, phlox, salvia, snap- dragon & verbena. Wait until October to plant petunias and pansies.

Give poinsettias their final pruning in September, pinching the tip of each shoot to encourage branching. Move potted poinsettias to a sunny location.

Give Christmas cactus a last feeding this month. Move into partial sunshine and reduce watering until buds appear.

Spray and prune roses, removing old flowers, hips and dead, damaged or spindly growth. Fertilize container-grown roses to encourage fall blooming.

Pinch chrysanthemums and spray for aphids, mites, mildew and blackspot. Feed with 10-30-20 or similar high phosphate fertilizer until color shows in the buds. Feed hanging baskets and orchids every two weeks.

See: Gardening with Annuals in Florida (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg319)

Bulbs - Add color, texture, and pattern to the garden with the dramatic varieties of elephant's ear (Alocasia spp.) now available. See: Alocasia spp. Elephant's Ear (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp033). Plant Aztec lily, butterfly lily, walking iris, spider lily, African lily (Morea sp.), amaryllis, crinum, society garlic, calla, narcissus, shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), gladiolus, spider lily (Hymenocallis), and rain lily. See: Bulbs for Florida (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg029)

Herbs - Plant herbs that tolerate the warm temperatures of early fall, such as Mexican tarragon, mint, rosemary, garlic chives, sage, thyme, sweet marjoram, and basil. See: Herbs in the Florida Garden (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh020)

Vegetables- Tomatoes, pole beans, sweet corn, okra, shallots, green onions, southern peas, pumpkin, squash, and watermelon all start well from seed or buy seedlings. Set out nursery grown broccoli, eggplant, peppers, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, and collards. UF recommends looking for these varieties at garden centers and in catalogs: Sweet peppers (Big Bertha, Early Calwonder, Jupiter, Sweet Banana and Yolo Wonder); hot peppers (Habanero, Hungarian Wax and Jalapeno); and green beans (Bush Baby, Bush Blue Lake, Cherokee Wax, Contender, Harvester, Provider, Roma and Tendercrop). See: Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/VH021)

Vegetable seeds to sow in September for October transplanting include; beats, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collards, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, English peas, and kohlrabi.

Remember bees love, love, love broccoli and arugula flowers.

Fruit - 'Bush Sugar Baby' is an intriguing new variety of watermelon; a diminutive 2-to-3-foot-long variety that bears a pair of 7-to-12-pound fruit that ripen in just 70 days (www.Neseed.com). Strawberries have to be planted in September and October. Prepare planting areas for strawberries by adding organic matter.

Tomatoes – Every gardener’s favorite merit special mention. Growing them can be tricky here but by following a few rules you can enjoy delicious, vine-ripened varieties throughout the winter. By now you should have started seeds and by mid-September you should have nursery-grown seedling set out. You can continue planting from now until about mid-March when it becomes too hot for fruit to set. Grow tomatoes in containers or raised beds for nematode avoidance.

Tomatoes in the Florida Garden


Blossom Drop, Reduced Fruit Set, and Post-Pollination Disorders in Tomato


The University of Florida has tested a wide variety of tomatoes for pest and disease resistance and fruiting potential, with kudos going to Better Boy, Bragger, Celebrity, Duke, Floradel, Flora-Dade, Floramerica, Manalucie, Solar Set, Sun Coast and Walter large-fruit varieties. UF/IFAS found the best small fruit varieties to be Cherry, Chelsea, Florida Basket, Micro Tom and Sweet 100.

Retired horticulturist Allen Cordell, who has grown countless tomatoes at the Florida Botanical Gardens and Pinellas County 4-H gardens, swears by Celebrity, Better Bush and Sweet 100. Fertilize monthly with a complete organic, water as needed, and you should have a good crop.

Valuable horticultural information is only a click away at the University of Florida Extension Service/ Brevard County website. http://brevard.ifas.ufl.edu/Horticulture/index.shtml

Growing tomatoes is a challenge here on the beach. Tomatoes from seed should have been started in August. It’s not too late; however, to set out purchased seedlings

Growing tomatoes in pots is much easier than in our sandy, nematode-riddled soil. Use the largest pots possible from 5-gallon, to 7 or 10-gallon containers. Make sure they have good drainage. Placing a thick layer of packing "peanuts" at the bottom of pots works very well and makes them lighter. Use fresh nursery soil or a 'pro-mix' type soil that does not include fertilizer. Plant seedlings an inch or two deeper that the original soil depth.

Enrich the soil with manure ...composted manure or dry composted manure worked into the top 6 inches of the soil. Tomatoes need calcium to prevent blossom end rot. You can grind collected eggshells in a little water and then apply a little at the root zone.

For the first 50-60 days feed often with fish emulsion fertilizer. If you buy chemical fertilizers, select those formulated for vegetables. The University of Florida recommends spraying every week or so with Maxicrop (available at Ace Hardware), a liquid seaweed emulsion that contains micronutrients and helps plants stave off disease and insects.

Many tomato varieties suited for zone 10 are indeterminate, meaning, they are sprawling, vining plants that keep growing, some reaching 8, 10, even 12 feet. Make sure you have a good support system for them.

Determinate tomato plants reach about 4-5 feet tall and stop growing. When planting indeterminate varieties, plan on providing a good trellis/support/stake system.

Observe your plants daily to make it easier to deal quickly with bugs and fungus, blights, and wilt. To keep disease at bay do not let the leaves get wet when watering. Use your fingers to pinch off the small shoots that grow between the main stem and the sturdy side branches. They will never produce flowers. Most important, plant tomatoes suited for our growing conditions. Look for varieties that have clues in the name like “sun,” “sol,” “heat”, or “Florida. Use the internet to investigate the following varieties: Celebrity, Big Beef, Early Girl, Sun Master, Anahu, Heatwave II, and Homestead 24. Tom McCubbin says Sweet Treat, Sweet Chelsea, Solid Gold, Champion, Big Beef and, Bella Rosa give him the most consistent and reliable production.

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