Garden Tools Next To A Basket Full Of Bulbs In The Garden
sept NE
(Image credit: Anna_Hirna)

By September in the Northeast, the days are getting shorter and cooler and plant growth is slowing or nearing completion. After a long hot summer, it may be tempting to put your feet up, but there are still plenty of September gardening tasks for the northeast gardener to tackle. The to-do list for fall Northeast gardens waits for no one and lays the foundation for a healthy garden in the spring.

September in the Northeast Garden

Labor Day weekend is often a time for family gatherings and the last chance to enjoy summer weather. However, that doesn’t mean winter is imminent. There will still be plenty of days to get out in your northeast gardens to work on that to-do list for fall.

For one thing, fall crops need to be harvested and then processed for storage. Weeds continue to flourish and must be dealt with, and while rain showers are more often in the forecast, some watering will likely still need to be done.

September in the Northeast is also the time to prep the garden for the next growing season. This might mean amending soil, building new raised beds or paths, and planting or moving flowering perennials, shrubs, or trees.

To-do List for Fall Northeast Gardens

While September in Northeast gardens brings some chores such as pruning and fertilizing to an end, it is also the time to undertake tasks that will lay a solid foundation for next year’s garden. September is an excellent time to do a soil test which will help to determine what, if any, amendments your soil needs.

As you harvest the last of the produce and cut back blooming perennials, if you haven’t already, be sure to save some seeds. Another September task for the Northeast is to order bulbs. If you already have bulbs, it’s time to plant them.

Speaking of flowers, on the fall to-do list is dividing perennials such as peonies, daylilies, irises, and hosta. September also means digging up the tender corms of gladiola, dahlia, and tuberous begonias. Prepare for blooms for the holidays by moving poinsettias in a dark room for at least 16 hours a day. Also, bring the amaryllis inside and place in a cool, dark area.

Additional September Gardening Tasks

September is the time to clean up those bird feeders. Wash well to rid the feeders of mold and mildew. Hummingbird feeders can be cleaned and stored for the next season.

Salvage the last of the tomatoes by removing any blooms from the plants. This will indicate to the plant that it’s time to ripen fruit instead of produce.

Outdoor houseplants should be prepared to be brought back in. Check them for insects first. Once inside, cut back on watering and fertilizing.

The cooler temperatures of September in Northeast gardens are ideal for planting new shrubs and trees, leaving them plenty of time before winter to establish without getting stressed.

Lastly, this month is a great time to start a year-round garden by using a cold frame, adding protection to raised beds, or by building a greenhouse. 

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.