September Garden Maintenance

Early fall is the time to stop pruning and fertilizing; divide your hostas, daylilies and iris

At this point in the growing season, you should stop fertilizing your garden. Any new growth most likely would not make it through the winter.

September is the perfect time to dig up and divide your hostas, daylilies, and iris. These plants produce more each year. You can dig them up, divide them, and either plant some in other places in your yard or share with friends and family. It also gives your plants a renewed vigor, as many will become stunted if left in clumps.


Dig up a clump of hosta and shake off the excess dirt. You will see several crowns on top. Gently pry these apart, taking care to keep roots attached to each crown. These will be tangled, but once you loosen it up you will be able to separate them easily. Plant each crown separately.

Hostas are attractive, foliage plants that prosper in the shade. While they are not evergreen and do not offer a winter display, they do a remarkable job from spring until frost, the period you spend most time in your garden.

Paul Aden, Author of The Hosta Book: Making Sense of Gardening


Very similar to hosta, but there will be more of a “hand” with thickened portions of the root. Be careful β€” you do not pull these apart by the root.

Few perennials are as tough and versatile as daylilies (genus Hemerocallis), and even fewer offer daylilies’ enormous range of color, shape, and growing characteristics. The ease of hybridizing daylilies is a major attraction for the enthusiast.

Ted L.Petit, Author of The Daylily: A Guide for Gardeners


Again, much like hosta, except you will want to dig much deeper. The rhizome (the thick part of the root) is just below the surface, but the other roots are quite long and deep below the rhizome. To divide, locate each stem, rhizome, and root. As long as you have all three, you can break or cut. Watch for iris borers, a large worm-like bug about three inches long. If you find one, put it in a pail of soapy water to kill it.

Adding bone meal to the soil will help establish your divided iris more quickly. Bone meal is known as an organic fertilizer rich in phosphorus and calcium. Adding phosphorus and calcium back to the soil is important as both nutrients play significant roles in plant growth. Phosphorus is known to stimulate root production and flowering but it does much more in the plant.

Named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, the iris has been called the ‘poor man’s orchid’ because it is exotic yet low maintenance, inexpensive and can be grown in the back garden.

Theodore James, Author of The Iris