What does September look like in my gardens? As soon as Labor Day is a thing of the past, I start pulling out all of my fall decor.

But, that doesn’t mean my gardening days have ended.  I am grateful there are chores to do in my gardens all year long. 

Here are few things I always do in September in preparation for the much anticipated cooler fall temperatures.

  1. Fertilize my ferns.
  2. Harvest my hydrangea blooms.
  3. Prune my hybrid tea roses.
  4. Order some fall bulbs.
  5. Purchase an item on my garden wishlist.

Fertilize My Ferns

large fern - J Dub By Design
My large Kimberly Queen, Fronda

I live in Texas in Zone 8 and the first frost usually doesn’t arrive until mid November, if even then.

Incidentally, if you would like to check the average first and last frost dates for your area, click here. All you need to do is enter you zip code.

Because our average frost date is so late in the year, I continue to fertilize my ferns monthly through the first few weeks of October.

And, trust me, my fern fertilization method is fabulous.   I have never found anything even close to matching this fertilizer.

Here’s a short video of my monthly process that I guarantee will give you ferns as big as mine.

My monthly process

This post does contain affiliate links.  This means if you click on certain links and purchase a product I recommend, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  If you do make a purchase through my links, thank you so much for supporting my website.

Harvest My Hydrangea Blooms

Annabelle hydrangea blooms in a courtyard - J Dub By Design
Annabelle Hydrangeas blooming in the courtyard

My courtyard is full of ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas‘ I planted over five years ago.  This hydrangea specimen grows quickly to a 5’ X 5’ deciduous shrub.

The enormous blooms will reach up to 12 inches in size and are perfect for zones 3-8.  This beauty has never disappointed me with its plethora of gorgeous white blooms.

As these blooms age, they eventually turn a magnificent shade of green before turning antique white.

I let most of my hydrangea blooms age naturally on the plant as they turn white to green. I then harvest the blooms in the fall to use in my arrangements and table-scapes. 

'Annabelle' hydrangea harvest in the fall - J Dub By Design
My basket of harvested ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea blooms.

To harvest my hydrangeas, I cut the blooms first thing in the morning (or at dusk) when the temperatures are cooler using my heavy duty carbon steel pruners.

I always make the cut using my carbon steel pruners on the diagonal (always cut on the diagonal when cutting flowers).

This hydrangea specimen blooms on new wood (it dies back to the ground and blooms on stems that grow during the current season).

I can cut whenever and wherever I want.

My only rule is that I cut the stem longer than I need so that I can make another cut before placing them in water. 

Fall mantel using hydrangeas, candles, and macho ferns - J Dub By Design
A hydrangea arrangement sitting on the hearth of our outdoor fireplace.

Sometimes, I don’t even place them in water, and instead, I just them place them in an arrangement, and allow them to dry out naturally.

'Annabelle' hydrangea arrangement with silver candlesticks on dining room table - J Dub By Design
A simple hydrangea centerpiece on our dining room table

Prune My Hybrid Tea Roses

Pope John Paul II large white rose blooms - J Dub By Design
A few Pope John Paul hybrid tea blooms in our courtyard

Did you know some garden gurus say it is a myth that you need to prune your roses just above a 5 leaf stem?

It is not a myth – it is solid gardening advice that has been passed down for generations. There is also a very good reason to follow this advice.

However, if you don’t take that advice and decide to prune wherever you want on your hybrid tea roses – you are NOT going to hurt your roses one bit.


The Background

Roses are composed of 3 leaf, 5 leaf, and 7 leaf stems.

The further down the bush, the larger the number of leaves on the stems.

Technically, if you prune at a 3 leaf, you are going to prune at the very top of the bush. So, this means you won’t be take that much growth off the bush.

But, as your hybrid tea roses reach for the sky, they are going to get leggy. When the rose is leggy and blooms, the blooms can become too heavy and droop over.

If you prune at a 7 leaf stem, you are going to be pruning close to the bottom of the bush.

This is normally where you would prune in early spring before your roses come out of dormancy and start their new growth in anticipation of spring.

So, if you prune at a 7 leaf stem in early summer, it may take your rose longer to set blooms again. They are focused on lots on new healthy foliage growth instead of setting buds for gorgeous blooms.

When you prune at a 5 leaf stem, you are going to be pruning about midway down of the the bush.

“Goldilocks Rose Pruning”


“The Money Prune”

Translation…… This is just the right height.

This is what I would recommend you do throughout the growing season and in early fall when you get that last flourish of blooms before winter hits.

That way, you get the flush of new strong growth and a lots of blooms. It is the best of both worlds.

What I Do….

I prune my Pope John Paul hybrid teas early in the day (or at dusk) when the temperatures are cooler.

To do this, I prune using a pair of heavy duty carbon steel pruners that I have wiped down with alcohol.

Wiping down my pruners every time I work with my plants ensures that I don’t spread disease to other areas of my gardens

And, if I happen to be working with a diseased plant, I make sure to wipe my pruners down again thoroughly before moving on to another plant.

Also, I prune so that the that the stalks of the rose bush grow facing outward instead of turning inward towards the center of the bush.

Doing this allows proper air circulation around and inside the center of my rose bushes.

I carry a collapsable trashcan around with me as I go from rose to rose. I throw the pruned material into this bag and then easily carry it over to my compost pile.

These bags also collapse and store nicely when I am not using them.

cutting roses using carbon still pruners
Pruning above a 5 leaf stem
Pope John Paul II new red rose growth
The new red growth on my hybrid teas

Order Fall Bulbs

'Mount Hood' Daffodil
A daffodil in our courtyard

My fall bulb order always includes tulips and daffodils.  But, there are other bulbs you might want to consider such as iris, allium, fritillaria, hyacinth, ranunculus, crocosmia, anemone, and muscari.

This past year, I introduced two new varieties of daffodils to our backyard. These include a white variety for our courtyard and a variety with peachy undertones planted outside our master bedroom.

I will also add in some new bearded iris to our backyard. These include the beautiful yellow and white variety and a bronzy orange beauty called‘Lovely Señorita’.

And, I couldn’t resist ordering more rhizomes of the white variety for my courtyard called ‘Immortality’, .

'Immortality' Bearded Iris - J Dub By Design
‘Immortality’ in bloom in our courtyard

Divide and Transplant

white peony festive maxima in bloom - J Dub By Design
My White Festiva Maxima Peony

I have been growing two white peonies (Paeonia Festiva Maxima) in pots for about years.

Although peonies will grow in Zones 3- 8, I was not sure they could handle our heat index and 100 degree temps during summers here in The Hill Country.

However, I have watched them closely and now feel comfortable to plant them directly in my courtyard. I believe they will be really happy in early spring in full sun before my crepe myrtles have leafed out.

Once the peonies bloom (really early for me in March), and the temperatures start to rise, the peonies will get lots of shade from my crepe myrtles.

This will keep them cooler as well as protect their leaves from the scorching sun.

Later this month, I will divide them into 8 individual plants. Then, I will plant them in the four beds in my courtyard.

Make a Garden Purchase

Because I will be transplanting my peonies, I purchased some garden stakes to help support the blooms.

These stakes will also serve as a marker for where I planted them. That way, I won’t accidentally dig them up or damage their roots once they die back to the ground in anticipation for winter.

courtyard with fountain at dusk - J Dub By Design
Our courtyard in full bloom at dusk

That’s a wrap on my gardening days in September! I hope you have your very own wonderful September in the Gardens!

Looking for some menu options for the last days of summer? I’ve got you covered from the appetizers to desserts and anything in between.

Did you see my plant pick of the month? You are going to love this unique and plant with the unusual name.

I talk about orchids all the time on my Instagram stories. Would you believe I never wanted one? You can read that story here.

I’m a big believer in using what you have. So, if you are still harvesting tomatoes and squash, check out this late summer table-scape that uses your garden bounty.

I’ve also added a new segment on my blog. Its my weekly wins of the week where I talk about things I have found around the web that you definitely want to check out.

Wins of the Week – August 23rd Edition

Wins of the Week – September 5th Edition

You must make my out of this world squash relish. This recipe is a great one for newbies and experienced canners alike.

September means fall is just around the corner. Here’s an DIY fall centerpiece you can complete in less than 5 minutes.

Cooler weather means it’s soup weather. Check out my Roasted Tomato Basil Soup. It’s umami on steroids!

Also, did you see my Wins of the Week – September 12th Addition? I highlight some decor I love, a plant you will fall in love with, and a company that is doing things right!

This post does contain affiliate links.  This means if you click on certain links and purchase a product I recommend, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. If you do make a purchase through my links, thank you so much for supporting my website.