September 1, 2012

1 - September is a good time for planting many things in New Mexico.

Yard and Garden September 1, 2012


I am a newcomer to New Mexico and was wondering what I can plant in September here.

Tom G.

Los Lunas


September is a good time for planting many things. You still have time to plant some vegetables such as radishes and leaf lettuce that can mature enough to harvest before the plants freeze. These plants and many others are tolerant of slight freezing and with a little protection when early cold temperatures arrive, they will continue growing, maturing, and extend your harvest season. Carrots, turnips, and kale may also be planted now, especially in protected microclimates. Shallots and garlic bulbs may be planted now to grow through the winter for summer harvest next year.

Some flowering plants may also be planted now. You can plant pansies that will tolerate some freezing temperatures. Flowering kale (plants with colorful leaves) may also be planted and will grow into the early winter without damage. They may even survive the winter and provide landscape interest into the spring if temperatures are not too cold where they are planted. Gardeners in southern New Mexico have a much better chance to grow these flowers and vegetable through the whole winter, but even the Middle Rio Grande region may have success.

Many container grown trees and shrubs can be planted now and into October. Container grown plants may be planted until the ground freezes if the plants are kept outdoors and hardened to the weather. Plants from a greenhouse may not be able to take the change in temperatures as we move into the autumn, so be careful later in the season. Purchasing and planting the landscape plants that develop fall color in the autumn will let you choose plants with the color you prefer and you can choose plants that develop deep color in most of their leaves at this time. Environmental factors after you plant them (moisture, fertility, etc.) may alter their color development once they are in the ground, but at least you started with the best chance to get the autumn color you wanted.

In September, temperatures moderate, so preparing the soil will be a more pleasant task. The monsoon rains may continue in the fall, but you will still need to irrigate. As temperatures decline, plant water use will also decline. Mulch to conserve moisture will also moderate temperatures and encourage healthy root growth in the autumn. As mentioned in a recent Yard and Garden article, root development in many plants occurs in the autumn while the air temperatures decline and the soil temperatures remain warm. Do not fertilize when you plant to avoid burning new roots that develop.

Gardening in the fall is a good idea in New Mexico.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms.

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