Perennials: Plant, divide or move peonies in September. Remember that the eye must be planted 2 inches below the ground. It’s also a good time to divide and plant many early blooming perennials. Always add a bit of compost to the planting hole. Divide day lilies after they bloom. Move perennial plants started from seed to a nursery row or to their permanent place in the border. Mulch later on after the first hard frost.
Flowers: Remove annuals as they fade and add to the compost. Continue taking new cuttings of geraniums, coleus, wax begonias and impatiens for indoors. Several container “recipes” using hardy perennials and grasses with autumn color will provide a refreshing change from pink geraniums, and they will last through a light frost.
Vegetables and fruits: Keep up with harvest. Make preserves, jelly and pickles now that the weather has cooled. Store leftover vegetable seed in jars or plastic baggies in a cool, dry place. Label. Save seeds from successful tomato plantings. Label.
Trees and shrubs: Needled evergreens lose their oldest set of needles each fall. Gather the pine needles for mulching strawberries and broadleaf acid-loving evergreens. Help shrubs harden off for winter by moving mulch a few inches away from the trunk.
Lawns: Labor Day is a good time to fertilize the lawn. Continue lawn care — seed or sod new lawns and keep them moist. Mow when new grass is 3 inches high.
Houseplants: It is time for houseplants to come indoors. Water when the soil feels dry, but do not overwater. Some plants will be too large for their pots. If a larger pot causes space problems, knock the plant out of the pot, loosen roots and trim them in the same manner used to maintain bonsai. Add fresh soil and replant.
General: Even though it is Labor Day, rest and enjoy the fruits and colors of the gardens.
Susan Henry, master gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester