University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Fall News Article
line
   
BATTLING SLUGS AND OTHER SEPTEMBER GARDENING TIPS
 
Charlie Nardozzi, Senior Horticulturist
National Gardening Association, and
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
 
 
Battling slugs, moving houseplants that spent the summer outdoors back inside, and digging summer bulbs are some of the gardening tips for this month.
           
Don't turn a blind eye toward slugs because they are still laying eggs for next year. Use traps, diatomaceous earth, or whatever method works, just keep them from multiplying. If slugs are a big problem, consider raking leaves off your garden beds and leaving them bare for the winter so the cold will kill any exposed adults and eggs.  You can trap slugs in rolls of moist newspaper left in the garden, then discard.  Or place small boards where they hide under by day and you can find them.  There are several copper products you can place around precious plants to deter slugs.  Others use bands of egg shells or similar crushed and sharp materials.
           
Gradually condition indoor plants that have spent the summer outdoors to lower light conditions. Move them to a shady spot outdoors for a week, then move them into the sunniest spot indoors for a couple of weeks before moving them to their permanent locations. Dunk them in soapy water to clean the foliage (a sink or bathtub is handy for this), and spray with insecticidal soap if insects are a problem.  Do they need repotting?  Now is a good time before bringing in.
           
When the first frost blackens the foliage of dahlias (or if a hard freeze is predicted), cut off the stems about 6 inches above the tubers. Carefully dig the clumps with a spade or fork, and let them dry out of direct sun and wind for a day (not too long or they'll begin to shrivel). Store the tuber clumps whole (you'll get larger plants), or make more plants by carefully separating the tubers from the stem, making sure to include any "eyes" (small, raised nubs near where the tubers attach to the main stem) with each tuber. These are the future sprouts. Store tubers in cardboard boxes or mesh bags filled with peat moss, vermiculite, or sawdust. Keep them in a dark, 35- to 50-degree (F) location.
           
After the foliage has been damaged by frost, allow cannas to dry in the ground for a few days, then cut back the stems to 3 to 4 inches and carefully dig the rhizomes and let them dry at room temperature for a few days. Store in cardboard boxes or mesh bags filled with vermiculite or peat moss at 40 to 50 degrees for the winter. In spring, plant the entire clump or separate the rhizomes, leaving a portion of the old stem attached to each one.
           
You can keep geraniums growing and blooming indoors by cutting them back by about a third and then starting to fertilize them a couple of weeks later. Keep plants in a sunny window. Or to keep them dormant for the winter, move the potted plants into a dark, cool (40 to 50 degrees) location. Don't water them and don't cut them back until they show new growth in spring.
           
Buy and plant bulbs now for spring blooms.  Unless you have wet or poorly drained soil, bulbs should grow fine.  If you have problems with deer and squirrels in the garden, you might avoid tulips.  Daffodils add cheery spring blooms, and are resistant to feeding by animals. Or, try interplanting daffodils with tulips to fool them!

Return to Perry's Perennial Pages, Articles