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Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Calendar for Growing Flowers in Coastal Southern California


This is the month we sharpen our pruning tools, and get out a good pruning book and study it.  Roses and fuchsias especially need pruning.  The South Coast Botanic Garden usually schedules pruning demonstrations on Sundays in January and February.

January is the month you find certain bare root plants in your nursery that will not be there any other month.  Bare root plants are easier and cheaper to ship and sell.  Wise gardeners shop early to get a good selection and get them planted before they dry out. Among the bare root plants available (often this month only) are: roses, grapes, flower fruit trees, Bechtel crabapple, asparagus, artichokes, rhubarb, and deciduous trees. Apricots do very well here and tree ripened fruit is extra good. Strawberries, and we hear that other berries,  grow well here. Remember Knott's!!  If you are planning a garden with edibles, be sure to keep it separate from flowers if you use systemic sprays.  Be careful that any sprays you use are safe for edibles.

Speaking of edibles, sometime in the Spring plant some beet seeds and don't harvest the beets - pick and use the leaves like spinach.  Used this way, you will have a continuing harvest for several years.  For two people, 20 ft. will give you a meal a week, very easily.

Roses are still blooming, but before the month is out, you must plan to prune them, clean away all of the old mulch, and take all the old leaves off.  Start them afresh by giving them a good spray with a lime sulphur solution.  Buy new bushes now, too.  There will be rose pruning demonstrations at many places this month.

Roses give many repeat blooms here.  They can be fed and the insects repelled by applying systemic     granules every six weeks. Then the only other care would be to spray weekly in the month of May for mildew.  Roses are heavy feeders and need deep watering.  They repay with a mass of roses every six weeks.  Chose mildew free varieties.  Consult neighbors and nurserymen for the most mildew resistant plants in your area.

Fuchsias should be fed blood meal when pruned, but just on top of the ground.  1T per basket, and 1 heaping T per foot of height if in the ground.

Ivy should be cut back now.

Try some delphiniums late this month.  Protect from birds and snails.

Feed the slugs and snails something lethal.

Dahlias can be dug and stored, especially if drainage is poor.  Some gardeners, including myself, leave them in for years, with excellent results.

Prune Spring flower shrubs after they bloom.

You will start your tuberous begonias next month so you might order now if you send away for them.  Local nurseries will be getting them soon.  Get some oak leaf mold to have on hand to start them.  Shade is recommended, but I found I was able to grow them in full sun right up until the second hot spell in September.  Snails love them so much that growing in baskets or pots is much better than in the ground.  Try them, you'll love them.

Cut mums to the ground.  Plant Glads till March.

Fertilize spring annuals, potted plants, clivia, ferns and primroses.

Continue to feed Cymbidiums hi-nitrogen til July.

Hydrangeas should be pruned if you want it low and bushy.

Late February is the best time to prune fuchsias.  It is a good idea to have them free of mites by then.  They will start the new year squeaky clean.

The Fuchsia Fan recommends an improved method:

Day 1.   Vlock oil, 1 tsp. per gallon
Day 2.   Cooks garden insect spray with Thiodan, 2 tbsp. per gallon.
Day 3.   Rest

Repeat three times.  Thereafter use one or the other one time each month and that should control them.

©Florence Sullivan 1986

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