September in the garden

Lifting and dividing iris and daylilies, rooting cuttings of tender plants, and burying bean vines are some of the gardening tips for this month.

Root cuttings of coleus, geranium, and herbs to bring indoors over the winter. Cut a 3-inch section of stem, remove the bottom half or two thirds of the leaves, and place in moist soilless mix, vermiculite, or sand. (Some gardeners dip the cut ends in rooting hormone; others find this unnecessary.) Place the entire container in a loosely tied plastic bag to maintain humidity.

When the daytime temperatures no longer rise above 65 degrees F, it's time to pick the green tomatoes. Wrap them individually in newspaper and let them ripen indoors.

Lift bearded iris clumps with a shovel and break them apart. Save the plumpest, firmest rhizomes, and discard the old, leafless ones. Trim the leaves to about six inches long. Let the rhizomes air dry overnight before planting. Daylily clumps are so dense you'll need to slice through them with a shovel or spade. Separate them into smaller clumps, leaving at least three plants per clump. Trim leaves to about 6 inches long and replant.

Legumes, such as beans and peas, have the ability to take nitrogen from the air and use it for their own benefit. Rather than pulling up the spent plants and adding them to the compost pile, why not keep that nitrogen where it's needed by chopping up the vines and tilling or digging them into the soil.

If you have any existing small trees or shrubs you'd like to relocate next spring, prepare them now with a process calling root pruning. With a sharp spade, slice down into the soil around the rootball. This will cut through the roots and encourage the growth of new roots, which will ease transplant shock later on. Only select plants about your height, as large plants will be difficult to dig sufficient roots to move successfully. Larger trees and shrubs may need the equipment and skill of a professional landscaper to move.

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