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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Calendar for Growing Flowers in Coastal Southern California


Remember, all beautiful color you see here in winter and very early spring should be planned about this time. The roots get a fine start and much of the best blooms come from this early planting. If your garden is full of mums now, and you lack room, get pony packs and transplant into 4" plastic size pots, and have inexpensive plants ready to pop into place later. If you plant directly into the garden, do it at about 4 p.m. to give the plants a whole cool night to help them thru the next days heat. Shade them for part of the next day.


Our early color comes from planting these now. Stock, iceland poppies, calendula, snapdragons, and try some perennials, now, too. Try margurites, blue daisy, foxglove.

Some seeds could be sown in flats now, if that's your thing. Spring flowers and perennials. A few that do well sown in the garden and reseed year after year are: white allysum, forget-me-nots, bachelor buttons, lobelia, nasturtiums, impatients, California poppy, and orange African daisy, but most others need more care and the see is too expensive to waste trying to sow directly into the garden.

Stop fertilizing hibiscus and other subtropicals so they will harden off for winter.

California poppy if watered in a garden situation makes a fine garden flower. It blooms much longer than in the wild. Lack of rainfall keeps it from germinating on our local hillsides. Remember seeds must never dry out while germinating. California poppy comes in mixed colors. African daisies, the little orange and cream colored kind can be sown soon. They bloom for many winter months.

Now, you have thouh about your winter garden, let's see what needs doing this month.

POINSETTIAS may still be pinched back early this month. Just remove the last six inches of each stock to have double the number of blooms.

FUCHSIAS, keep the dead blooms picked and plan to cut some straggly branches back about six inches.

HIBISCUS should be fertilized for the last time this year, but lightly. Later fertilizing will result in growth tener to frost. This is true of many sub-tropicals.

CAMELLIAS must have mulch renewed or replaced to keep the roots cool and don't let them go in hot weather. Fertilize lightly and thing buds. Be careful not to remove the growing tip which can look like a bud.

IRIS should be ordered now.

MUMS should be cut to about 8" abou the first week in August, then do not cut again. Some gardeners do it a few weeks later but do it! Otherwise, they will get six feet tall and collapse.

Prepare areas for sweet peas, dig in manure, and R.S.A. Let set a few weeks, then plan early blooming kind. Remember they are heavy feeders. When six inches high, pinch tips out.

CALENDULA will get thrip so use systemic granules when planting and every six weeks. Thrip is what causes the buds on otherwise healthy plants to dry up. Thrip have eaten them from inside.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Calendar for Growing Flowers in Coastal Southern California


FERTILIZE, everything is growing fast and continues to need feeding. Water deeply and usually only once a week. Light sprinkling begets shallow roots. Mulch. Keeps weeds down and moisture in.

July is the best time to separate iris. Don't use any nitrogens when replanting, only super phosphate. Remember, the new growth does the blooming, the second year is the best bloom and the third is good, then consider dividing.

Roses, daylilies and many other things have bloomed and need feeding with low nitrogen fertilizer for more bloom. Epipilliums can be repotted now, they like to be grown in orchid bark.

Make cuttings of Martha Washington type geraniums after they finish bloom, or cut back a bit to give you good cutting wood next month.

If the weather is very hot, do not drown fuchsias, but rather sprinkle the area around them several times a day to increase the humidity they love.

Continue to keep your margurites thinned and they will continue to bloom. Make some zonal geranium cuttings this month, and when well rooted, consider throwing out the parent stock.

Buy foxglove seed, and plant for the next year.

Look over the garden, and the neighbors garden, and decide what you want for next year at this time. Write it on your calendar to buy and plant, at the right time. See what perrenials you could put in this fall, and consider flowering vines as easy color. Hold yourself in check next year when you plant in containers and remember what a chore watering is, and plan to put more things in the ground, for easier gardening. Think ahead about winter blooming containers, they don't require as much watering, try to plan to get these started early.

Carnations get thrip, so protect as buds form, with systemic granules. Petunias should be lightly pinched so they will not get leggy all at once.

Spend an hour sitting and thinking in your garden with a pencil and notebook in hand. Plan for a year from now. Then go write notes on your calendar for things to plant next year. Use more perennials, they will be there year after year.

Daylilies finish their first bloom now, and can use a good cleaning out of the old dead leaveas underneath. Cut down the old bloom stalks. If they are sending up too many side shoots eliminate some. Feed them a fertilizer with a high middle number.

Pinch back poinsettias.

Look carefully at your glads. Plan on moving them to places where their dying leaves won't show, for next year. Don't cut leaves back till fully brown. Then they can be dug, dried and saved for the next year. While in bloom mark the colors.

If you have vacant spots now, you can still slip in some marigolds or dwarf dahlias.

Lily of the Nile can hardly be beat. They bloom from June 1 to July 20, need no feed, look neat as a border plant all year, what more can you ask? Get one, divide it over and over again the next few years, and then leave it alone and you will have a huge display. Be sure to get some of the Peter Pan, half as high. Divide about a month after they bloom.

Fuchsias flaunt their beauty all summer. Red ones will take full sun along the coast while lighter colors need more shade. In July red fuchsias, white shastas, blue lily of the nile, yellow marguirte, golden gloriosa daisy, and lemon and yellow marigolds make the garden the most colorful of the year. Purple statice blooms like mad in July and Pink geraniums, roses and petunias complete the color palette. Tuck in a few lobelia, both dark and light and you'll never want to leave home.

Water deeply and keep fertilizing and weeding.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Calendar for Growing Flowers in Coastal Southern California


The first step in having color in your garden is planning well ahead. This month plan for the mums that will make your garden a joy next October. Divide clumps now and make some cuttings too. If you are limited on space, put a few divisions or cuttings in 4" plastic pots and bring them along for the next six weeks then tuck them in. Keep tops pinched back till first week in August. The rewards are so great that I like to put a very small handful of all purpose organic fertilizer in each hole and also use a small spade and work up the soil for each plant and add some R.S.A. Plants can be obtained at nurseries or aske friends for divisions.

If you have fading foxgloves, you could pull them out and put the mums in. Speaking of foxglove, they are so worthwhile for tall colorful spikes, and have bloomed for almost two months. First, the tall cneter spike, which when faded is cut back, then, six or more small spikes all grouped. Spikes are hard to come by in the garden where most of the forms are rounded, so next fall do buy some foxgloves. Put it on your calendar for October. They take full sun on the coast. Colors white, purple, cream and pinkish. After the early spring bloom of the last few months, actually the best time in our gardens, there are literally garbage cans full of throwaway material. Consider putting this on the compost heap. Even if you have no time to turn a heap, it will eventually become compost.

Delphenium gets cut back when new growth appears at the base.

Early sweet peas are almost gone, you might have a few seeds before throwing them out. When you plant them next September pinch them once when six inches high. You will be happy about what a nice full bush that makes.

Early in June you could buy pony packs of many late summer annuals, put them in a good mix, half garden soil, half potting mix, in 4" plastic pots, then when all these bare spaces occur from pulling calendula, sweet peas, etc. your late summer things will be ready to pop up and flower. This is a great money saver. The nursery does it for you at about ten times the costs. If you plan ahead this way, you save money and make the garden show more color.

Iris should be divided in July if they have become too crowded, but if you have too many you might dig some now and throw away or give away and tuck summer annuals into the empty spaces.

Dwarf Dahlias can be bought in 4" pots in bloom so you can see the color. Tucked in now, they will give months of bloom in summer, and then die down to rise in full glory for years to come. Use systemic granules when you plant them, and every six weeks thereafter, while in bloom. Let the leaves die completely before cutting back.

Zinnias provide some summer color, they want good air circulation or get mildew.

Roses can be cut with long stems now.

Margurites should be kept groomed and thinned and they will bloom all year. Make some cuttings now. Many of the best summer bloomers are perrenials. Statice, lily of Nile, daylilies, roses and others. Plan on getting some in next fall, and your garden will have summer color. Gloriosa daisy could still be planted from 4" pots and give a lot of summer color for years to come. Protect from snails. Select roses now, when you see the colors, but buy in January, bareroot. Botanic gardens usually have them labeled.

In mid-June your fuchsias should be in full bloom. They are fairly expensive at this time but do go to a nursery and get the names of some you like and plan a basket for next year. Red ones are blooming now, in full sun, along the coast. Other colors give six months of color, tucked in semi shade in the garden, and trained as trees or bushes. Much easier than watering baskets all the time. Train them high, remember they look best from below, hence the popularity of fuchsia baskets. Learn to make fuchsia trees from basket types.

I suggest you get your social calendar and make an appointment with yourself on the above suggested dates and go out and do these things.

Keep fertilizing!

~Florence Sullivan

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Calendar for Growing Flowers in Coastal Southern California


May is Lei Day in Hawaii or MAY IS THE MONTH OF MILDEW here on the coast, on your roses.

Be sure to spray for mildew on your roses all this month, every week. Spray the soil also. Cut short stems on the roses for the first blooming to let the plant get strong, then after that, long stems to semi-prune as you pick.

You can safely fertilize almost everything now, to keep it growing fast. When the rains are over, water infrequently but deeply, about once a week in sandy soil, less often in adobe.

Always add organic amendments to soil when you plant, as these continuously decompose and must be replaced.

Multiply Mums Madly, by making cuttings of the tips and divisions of the plants. In the next six weeks see that all your mums are divided. You will do better to dig up a clump and keep one division than to leave the whole clump. After they are established continue to pinch till mid August. Keep them 6 to 8 inches high, till then. If they get lumps on them use systemic granules.

If fuchsias are nicely rounded plants, stop pinching now and let them set buds. Fertilize them now iwth fertilizer with a high middle number.

If calendulas get mildew and leggy throw them out. They have had their day and plant them again in September. Save the stock, it may last two years, simply cut the old flowers off. Keep pruning chunks out of the marguerites every few weeks and they will continue to put out new green and blooms all year.

Plant asters and zinnias late in the month.

First Lady marigold will add a lot of summer color. Buy small dahlias in the 4" size in bloom so you can pick the color. They will bloom all summer if you protect them ever six weeks with systemic granules, then they will go dormant in late fall. When foliage i all dried up, dig and store bulbs to plant next year or they may be left in the ground a few years before separating. They always get leaf minor o you must use systemic granules every six weeks or spray them every 10 days. Protect them from snails too.

If you have pets do use the "spray on" snail protection. Completely water the garden first in the morning, let all the water dry off the leaves and then thoroughly spray the entire garden. Repeat in about 10 days and you will find very few snails live through this treatment. "That's it," and a product by Germaines are a few of the good sprays. If you can persuade the neighbors on each side to do this at the same time you are all going to be happy for a while. If you use snail spray or any spray be sure to get under the leaves.

In summer: impatients for shade, vinca for sun. Impatients in shade will bloom until November. A good investment, make cuttings and have them next year. Buy in bloom and collect your favorite colors. Planted amid ferns and using campanulas as a ground cover you can have a colorful spot in the deep summer shade. Impatients can stand a bit of sun along the coast, and must have sun in winter.

Don't cut foliage off bulbs but braid it and tuck it away neatly. Try to take in a Garden Tour in May. You will learn a lot from it. Take carnation cuttings now.

Florence Sullivan

Friday, March 30, 2012

All the flowers of tomorrow, are the seeds of today. Indian Proverb

Investing your time in helping others is like planting seeds in the flower garden of life.  One of my personal "time investments" is spent being a Girl Scout leader. Each year, leaders get together and plan activities for the upcoming year.  This year, we added a flowed design class to our plans.

For this lesson, we took our fourth grade Junior Girl Scout troop for the floral decor lesson, at the Yellow Vase Cafe in Palos Verdes.

The children enjoyed working with ribbon, roses and hydrangeas to create a sweet Spring flower arrangement that anyone would love.  The outcome was wonderful.

Fortunately, if you teach a child something truly useful, they can use it over and over in life. A week after we had this class, our Troop Leader was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. We are praying for her speedy recovery, and our troop was able to gather quickly when we heard the news, and create some beautiful flowers designed with love for her. We gave them flower vases and a bucket of Spring flowers and this si what they created. 

Working with children, and flowers, is a useful way to plant loving seeds in the flower garden of childhood.