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The Monthly Gardner – February 2013

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pruneing-rose
Where to prune a rose.

This has been an unusually cold and wet winter, which means that while January is the ideal time to prune, February is still a good time to get those shears out and prune what you probably did not do last month. But don’t wait till March, particularly if the weather turns hot and dry. And keep up with the harvest of cool-season crops, such as peas, lettuces, and spinach. It will encourage more production.

Pruning

Roses can still be pruned. Take out all crossing canes, dead canes, or any that look diseased. If any canes have grown below the graft union or bud union, get rid of them. And prune mature bushes to around 18 to 20 inches in height.

Cut back woody and overgrown perennials. If in doubt, look at the base of the plant. If it is sending up fresh growth there, you can safely cut off the dead or old plant material now. Cut back old foliage from ornamental grasses, liriope (monkey grass) and mondo grass to just a few inches high. And evergreens may still be pruned, but avoid pruning them later on this spring and summer.

 Bare-root Planting

Now is the perfect time for bare-root planting (plants without a root ball) There’s a whole host of bare-root plants available through mail order, but if you’re buying locally, roses, berry bushes, artichokes and ornamental trees should be available. For information on how to go about planting bare-root stock, also know as dry-root, check out my January 17, 2012 blog on the subject.

 Fertilizers

Fertilize roses and perennials at the end of the month and keep them watered. You can use chemical fertilizers (follow package directions on amount and frequency) or organic fertilizers, such as compost, fish emulsion, and others.

In the low desert and other hot areas, feed citrus, avocado, and deciduous trees now, but wait till next month in cooler coastal or higher zones.

Weed Killer

To greatly reduce weeds, apply a pre-emergent weed killer to beds and borders. It works by preventing seeds from germinating, so don’t apply anywhere you’re planting seeds.

And for more information, check out February 2012,  Monthly Gardner.

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The Monthly Gardner – March

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March and April are the ideal times to get your garden planted. This includes most summer annuals and perennials, warm-season and cool-season lawns, some cool-season and warm-season vegetables, and almost all permanent garden plants, such as trees, shrubs, ground covers and vines. But I would hold off planting tropicals for a couple of months until the weather warms up. So get in gear and get your garden in shape!

And since there is so much that needs to be done, here is list of things you should consider:

Purchase & Plant:

  • Drought-resistant plants
  • Trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers
  • Flowerbeds with warm-season flowers
  • Perennials
  • Tigridias, gladioli, tuberous begonias
  • Cuttings: herbaceous and softwood
  • Citrus, avocado and macadamia trees
  • Fuchsias from cuttings
  • Lawns
  • Summer vegetables plus green beans, potatoes, artichokes, tomatoes, culinary hers and edible flowers

Trim, Prune, Mow, Divide:

  • Prune begonias, cannas, ginger, ivy, pyracantha and Sprenger fern
  • Dethatch warm-season lawns
  • Deadhead annual and perennial flowers
  • Tie into knots the floppy leaves of bulbs until they turn brown
  • Prune camellias, tropical hibiscus and epidendrum
  • Pinch fuchsias to make them bushy
  • Propagate bamboo
  • Mow all grass lawns

Fertilize

  • Citrus trees, avocado trees and macadamia trees
  • Fuchsias
  • Ornamental trees, bushes, lawns and ground covers
  • Container-grown flowers with liquid fertilizer
  • Cool season flowers if growth slows
  • Roses
  • All lawns
  • Treat blue hydrangeas with aluminum sulfate.

Water (when there isn’t sufficient rain)

  • All garden plants according to their needs
  • Fuchsias
  • Roses
  • Spring-flowering bulbs
  • Don’t let azaleas dry out

Control of Pests, Diseases & Weeds

  • Control slugs and snails
  • Check roses for pests and diseases
  • Control cutworms
  • Pull weeds
  • Spray cycads for scale
  • Control giant whitefly

Do Something Special

  • Plant herbs in a window box or garden

If you want to know more about what to do in the garden in March, check out Pat Welsh’s “Southern California Gardening – A Month-by-Month Guide, from which the majority of this information was excerpted, or Google, “Southern California Gardening March.”

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The Monthly Gardener – February

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“Buds’re bustin’ out of bushes, And the rompin’ river pushes, Ev’ry little wheel that wheels beside the mill!”

Okay, Spring may not be “bustin’ out all over” as Oscar Hammerstein put it, but there are certainly enough buds beginning to make an appearance and the fact the Trader Joe’s  is selling daffodils does suggest that  Spring may be just around the corner.

So … what’s up for February?

To begin with, February is not a significant planting month – it’s a waiting month and a planning month. So use that rising sap to look over your garden and plan how you want to improve it when Spring does finally arrive. However, if you live within California’s costal zones, this a good time to:

  • Fertilize:  deciduous fruit, citrus and avocado trees, roses, fuchsias, cool-season lawns, perennials and create compost
  • Wash:  fruit and citrus trees with insecticidal soap or a solution of 1-2 tablespoons of dish detergent to 1 gallon of water
  • Prepare: garden by digging it up and putting down manure
  • Plant: camellias and azaleas, deciduous magnolias, clivia, gerberas, gladioli, lilies of the valley, succulents and perennials
  • Prune: kiwi vines, fuchsias, begonias, cannas, ginger, ivy, pyracantha Mexican bush sage and cut back woody and overgrown perennials
  • Lawns: Mow, feed, aerate and spread mulch on cool-season lawns

If you want to know more about what to do in the garden in February, check out Pat Welsh’s “Southern California Gardening – A Month-by-Month Guide, from which the majority of this information was excerpted, or Google, “Southern California Gardening February.”

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