This year’s California Landscape Contractors Association’s Landscape Industry Show offered, in addition to the usual garden art, nursery stock, turf equipment, fertilizer and lighting, a number of interesting booths and products designed specifically to deal with Southern California’s single most pressing problem – water, or lack there of!
“Chinatown” or How Water Came To LA
One of my very favorite films is “Chinatown,” not only because it’s brilliantly written, acted and directed, but because it’s based on fact, albeit somewhat fictionalized, and one of its principal characters is LA itself.
I’m off to see what’s new to the market place this year at the the mother of all landscaping shows this Wednesday at the LA Convention Center.
This is a “must-see” for any landscape designer or garden consultant who wants to keep current with what’s happening in irrigation and water management, water conservation alternatives, stone, rockwork and water features, out-door lighting, and, of course, sustainable gardening and drought-tollerant lawns, plants, trees and shrubs.
While this is a to-the-trade only show, I plan on walking my feet off, taking lots of pictures, gathering up all the goodies I can and will most definitely “tell all” in this month’s newsletter.
So, if you want to know what’s “happening” in the world of landscape design – how to conserve water – or what’s new in sustainable gardens, make a point of reading it. It’ll be out in a week or so – or if you haven’t signed up for it and want to … just click here.
If you’re like me, you hate to throw a living plant away. But do you really want to deal with those 5 Poinsettias you bought at Trader Joes to brighten up your living room? I mean, they were only a couple of bucks … right? But still …
It’s that “but still” that gets me in trouble every time. I guess it’s the thrifty Swede in me that hates to throw perfectly good things – particularly perfectly good – living things – away. So if you have no problem tossing, read no further.
However, if you’d like the environmentally-friendly, green task of redeploying your poinsettia(s) into next season, here is a step-by-step guide that, with proper care, dedication and a certain amount of luck, you too can make happen. And, if successful, you will receive the “Great Green Thumb Award,” for gardening above and beyond the call of duty!
By late March or early April, cut your poinsettia back to about 8″ in height. Continue a regular watering program, and fertilize your plant with a good, balanced all-purpose fertilizer. By the end of May, you should see vigorous new growth.
Place your plants outdoors, where they can bask in the warmth of spring and summer, after all chance of frost has passed and night temperatures average 55° F or above. Continue regular watering during the growth period, and fertilize every 2 to 3 weeks.
Pruning may be required during the summer to keep plants bushy and compact. Late June or early July is a good time for this step, but be sure not to prune your plant later than September 1. Keep the plants in indirect sun and water regularly.
Around June 1, you may transplant your poinsettia into a larger pot. Select a pot no more than 4 inches larger than the original pot. A soil mix with a considerable amount of organic matter, such as peat moss or leaf mold, is highly recommended. In milder climates, you may transplant the plant into a well-prepared garden bed. Be sure the planting bed is rich in organic material and has good drainage.
The poinsettia is a photoperiodic plant, meaning that it sets bud and produces flowers as the Autumn nights lengthen. Poinsettias will naturally come into bloom during November or December, depending on the flowering response time of the individual plant. Timing to produce blooms for the Christmas holiday can be difficult outside of the controlled environment of a greenhouse. Stray light of any kind, such as from a street light or household lamps, could delay or entirely halt the re-flowering process.
Now this is the really boring part! Starting October 1, the plants must be kept in complete darkness for 14 continuous hours each night. Accomplish this by moving the plants to a totally dark room, or by covering them overnight with a large box. During October, November and early December, poinsettias require 6 – 8 hours of bright sunlight daily, with night temperatures between 60 – 70° F. Temperatures outside of this range could also delay flowering.
Continue the normal watering and fertilizer program. Carefully following this regime for 8 to 10 weeks should result in a colorful display of blooms for the holiday season!
This is the existential gardening question that so many people never bother to ask? Or they simply reply, with more than a little attitude, “My gardener looks after it.” Which brings me to the question …
Transplant: it’s a great time to transplant, but be sure to keep new transplants well-watered if the weather is mild and dry. In warmer regions, now through February, after a killing freeze or a frost, is a good time to move a rose. Transplant it with as much of the roots as possible and keep well-watered.
Roses: don’t fertilize or water roses this month. they need to harden off for winter.
Bulbs: plant pre-chilled spring bulbs, such as tulips and hyacinths.
Plant: bare-root trees, shrubs, roses, and vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, greens, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, potatoes, and radishes now.
Prune: deciduous fruit trees once they’ve gone dormant and dropped their leaves.
In those areas where frosts are just an occasional thing, keep plantings well-watered so whenever a freeze threatens, plants are more likely to survive. A “turgid” well-hydrated plant is better-equipped to recover than a dehydrated plant.
If a plant is damaged by frost, resist the urge to prune the damaged parts. They may well protect the rest of the plant during the next frost.
Cut back dormant grapevines. A bonus: The cuttings make great wreaths!
Stimulate wisteria by cutting it back now. Cut back the long, thin branches that appeared this season alongside or entangled with the older wood. Leave two or three buds at the base of the branch.
Lawn: if you’ve overseeded your lawn and there are bare spots, feel free to scatter a bit more seed to fill in. Also, if the weather is warm and dry, you may need to water the lawn.
People often ask me to design an “easy-care” garden full of perennials — but that’s an oxymoron. Perennials aren’t easy, they’re complicated, and many plants called perennials such as salvia, geranium, pelargonium, lantana and lavender don’t live forever.
Also, it’s often impossible to teach hired gardeners how to care for them since each one requires different care. Every perennial has it’s own requirements:
That said, now is the time to cut back many perennials in the garden. With some, however, you need to wait until spring or until 8 inches of new foliage – called basal foliage – emerges from the ground, usually in late winter and then cut to that.
So if you love perennials and want a garden full of them, the smart thing to do is research each plant to see what it’s requirements are and then decided if you have the patience and fortitude to take them on or if your gardener is capable of doing the job for you.
I am super excited to share a few things with you guys. One I am gathering a lot of contact right now to begin to put out there about garden, landscape, and just overall plant and outdoor yard maintenance. I hope there is plenty of interest in my tips. I welcome your comments and suggestions on topics you are interested in. As for my recent happenings I will be at the LA convention center October 2nd and 3rd joining my dear friend Ricardo of Ricardo’s Nursery (you can find out more about his nursery here) for the Home Remodeling & Decorating Show. I will be sharing lots of tips on garden irrigation, planning and design. I hope you will be able to come out and visit us. You can purchase tickets here. I am also working on a new project I am excited about more details to come. Till next time happy gardening everyone!