September brings more mornings with temperatures in the low seventies and a nice breeze to your desert garden. What a relief! This always entices me to do some work outside – not only in the garden but also in my swinging hammock chair on my iPad. Nice!!!

On one of these mornings, I thought about how we really don’t use our desert patios as much as we could. I think we get so caught up in the heat and “It’s just too hot!” and then the winter cold which does happen now and then. We don’t have a habit developed to go out and just be.

I created this list of ideas as your temperatures allow you to venture outside, at least in the early morning hours:

Cozy Nook to enjoy a cup of teaIdea #1: Drink your morning beverage outside and contemplate even cooler days to come. What are your plans? Is there anything different you want to do in your pots this winter?

How about an “at home” holiday?

Don’t have a place that is comfy and cozy to do this? Take a weekend to relax, turn off the phones, spend time in the pool or curl up with a good book – what you might do if you were at a resort. With a little imagination, creativity and a couple of comfortable chairs, you can create a wonderful cozy seating area without bricks and mortar to enjoy on your ‘staycation.”

But before you go outside, get some healthy air inside! This is Idea #2. There are many reasons to open the windows – first and foremost – it feels and smells good!! Here are some other reasons to get those windows open!

  • It will help rid your home of toxic fumes.
  • It’s free – turn off your air conditioning for a couple hours and let your home soak up those cool breezes.
  • Your indoor plants will love you for it!
  • You will hear the birds and other sounds of nature.
  • Experts say that opening windows will improve your overall health.

And while we are talking about feeling good, consider Idea #3

Messy Patio with out of date potsReducing some of the clutter that might have accumulated in your yard over the past year(s). If you are not using some pots – donate them to a community or school garden. Old soil and fertilizer, broken tools, things you have collected over time and are tired of or you just don’t want/need them anymore – find new homes for them by donating them and toss what is of no value. I promise you that if you clean out the clutter, it will have many of the same effects as opening your windows!

Finally. Idea #4 – consider adding a new accent pot or piece of art to your favorite area. A new, cooler season might inspire you to treat yourself to something bright and cheery.Accent Pot

Trust me – it will continue to cool down so that you want to spend more time outside. Now is the time to dream a little and make some fun decisions about what’s next for your garden.

Additional Tips for Your September Desert Garden

Capture Rainwater-

And use it to water plants under your covered areas. Micro nutrients in the rain are great for potted plants!

Speaking of rain, too often desert homeowners make the mistake in thinking that a monsoon storm means they can cut back on irrigation or hand watering for their pots, gardens and other plants.

Desert Rain – Points to consider:

  1. It has to rain at least one (1) inch in order to saturate the root ball of your plants (get yourself a rain gauge so you know how much rain your yard has received)
  2. Pots under a Ramada, tree or overhang do not receive enough. if any rain.
  3. A deep soaking rain (more than 1 inch) received over a long time period (several hours) will only replace one day’s worth of pot watering.
  4. Pots in full sun with flowers and other ‘soft’ plants are accustomed to daily watering.
  5. A missed watering can cause your plants to get stressed and this invites problems including pest invasion and disease.
  6. If you have not received much rain, water your potted cacti/succulents now ~ Deeply!

What to Plant when your pots are just ugly:

Nurseries will have a fresh selection of annuals to replace those that have petered out. Zinnias, Marigolds, Vinca, and even Snapdragons, Dianthus and Petunias are all good choices that will carry your through October and the later three, all the way through winter with the right care.

Rose September Cut Back: 

This applies to all Hybrid Teas, Mini’s and Floribunda’s.

  1. Remove the top 1/3 of your roses and dead canes
  2. Selectively prune your climbers doing a lesser cut back.
  3. Clean up all the dead/fallen leaves, old mulch and debris.
  4. Reapply bark mulch around the roses.

Fertilize Citrus: 

  1. Check to see if you have fertilizer for your citrus trees.
  2. Fertilize citrus according to the instructions on the package this month.
  3. Water in deeply.


  1. Betty on at

    I always enjoy your gardening tips.
    This newsletter I appreciate the “non-gardening” tips too.
    I am looking foward to opening my windows and letting the fresh air in.
    Happy Fall!

    • HI Betsy! Thank you for the kind words. Yes, it is so nice to finally be able to open the windows!
      Happy Potting!

  2. Pat Pearson on at

    Thank you Marylee,, always enjoy your posting, wonderful advice.

    • Thanks, Pat! You seem to have become one of my ‘raving fans!’ I always appreciate it when you take the time to post a comment.
      Happy Potting!

  3. Karen Gates on at

    I thought you cut the roses off in the spring? I have 2 mini’s that need trimming and one big climber that’s totally out of control. I don’t know where to begin?
    Thanks for all your tips. I have 2 email accounts and you send to both of them. If you want, you can use this Gmail account and stop sending to the
    account. I’m starting to like Gmail better than Yahoo

    • Hi Karen! I have deleted your yahoo email address. Thanks for letting me know!
      There are two times each year that we cut back roses. The small 1/3 cut is in September and the big cut is in February. You can selectively prune your mini’s and climber now. I suggest you contact the Rose Society to see about how to cut back the climber in Feb as I do not want to steer you wrong. I rarely planted climbers in pots so my experience is limited.
      What you can do now with the climber is to cut back the unruly branches. You can take them back to their largest branch that they originate from. That should at least start the process!!
      Good luck!

  4. Jeanette Mathias on at

    What can I do in Tucson with large amounts of old potting soil? I think others would like an answer to this, too.

    • If the plants were not dying in the old soil I would add it to the desert area of my landscape or if you have one, a compost heap.
      Good luck and Happy Potting!
      ps. Thanks for writing!

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