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A Calendar for Growing Flowers in Coastal Southern California ~ by Florence Sullivan

Author's Note

     This booklet contains flower gardening information for a specific area.  This area includes Santa Barbara to the Mexican border and from the Pacific, inland to hotter areas. 

     To make the best use of the information, may I suggest that you get a thin felt pen with green ink, go to your calendar and turn to the current month.  Jot down chores which apply to your garden.  Then continue through the year.  Green ink will suggest gardens.  Thereafter, when you fertilize or spray, make a note on your calendar, in green, to remind you when to do it next.  Then you will be organized, and your garden will flourish. 

Happy Gardening
Florence Sullivan


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.


Calendula in Florence's Garden in February

Calendula can be in full bloom on Valentine's Day. Do note on your calendar to plant them next September or October. Learn to plant the lovely annuals that will soon be in bloom, in early fall, to get the best and most carefree bloom, we have all year. All of the following bloom best in our early spring: Calendula, Iceland Poppies, Primula, Primroses, Cineria, Stock, Marguerites, Daffodils, Freesia, Statice, Callas - boom in February and March if planted in the fall. Buy them by the dozen then, at very reasonable prices. They will all be available in 4" pots at a higher price now. Another advantage of early spring bloom is the dormancy of many insects.

Roses pruned last month can be fed a good 1 cup of balanced commercial fertilizer now, 10% nitrogen. As soon as all of the the sprouts are out.

Buy cottonseed meal to feed Azaleas next mont - good for other shade plants too.

Prune Poinsettias, Lantana, and semi-hard hibiscus, bougainvillea - about the middle of February. Our last freeze date in this area is February 28. Finish dormant pruning early in February.

In spite of the advice of others, I don't fertilize my lawn much now or it gets too think in March and is very difficult to cut.

Cymbidiums get Hi-nitrogen til July.

Epiphillums get a Hi-bloom fertilizer as soon as blooms appear.

Fuschsias get a second and last feeding of blood meal now. 1T per basket and a heaping T per foot in the ground. Don't work into soil.

Pelagoniums gat a pinching now.

Dahlias and tuberrose go in now.

Try another dozen delphiniums in enriched soil. Bait for snails. Or you can use plastic cherry tomato baskets inverted to protect delphiniums from birds and snails.

Make a mum tree. Put 3 plants close together and pinch out side shoots till correct height is reached, then train it like a tree rose. Pompoms are best.

Calendula, carnations, cinerarias, and dahlias always suffer insect damage. I protect from the time of planting with the granular form of systemic and therefore do no spraying, simply using the granules every six weeks.

Meyer lemons do very well here. They are dwarf and look great in a large container.

Try some Azaleas even if they are difficult here. They don't really like our alkaline water and soil. Work an azalea mix into your soil. I don't like pure peat, once dry it is next to impossible to get it wet again.


Orchid cactus after buds are set and again after flowers.
Cymbidium or orchid - hi-nitrogen till July - every ten days
Azalea - cottonseed on surface
Hydrangea - acid now and again before bloom. Cottonseed will do.
Roses: feed well now and each time they come into bloom, with a long acting commercial fertilizer, or use the fertilizer with systemic insecticide and do no spraying except for later for mildew with fungicide.
Lawns get 10-6-4 now.
Daylily, liquid hi-bloom or superphosphate. Repeat after each bloom period.
Fuchsias, last feeding of bloodmeal March 15, thereafter balanced fertilizer on the acid side.
Camellias may be planted.
Repot Orchids before June.
Spray Holly with oil spray only if it needs it, for black sooty mold.
Prune Hibiscus, removing one/third growth, about March 21.
Pinch fuchsias

This is a very good month for cutting and seeds as it is warming up at night. Cuttings of Hydrangea, Fuchsias, Begonia leaf cuttings, Marguerite cuttings, and Zonal Geranium tip cutting now.

Make a moss lined hanging basket and fill it with petunias from a flat, now, and in a few months you will have a bloom that last about six months. Fertilize regularly. Use about 2 dozen plants.

Root some tuberous begonias in oak leaf mold now. I f you have no luck in shade, try in full sun after they have been rooted, and transplanted. Mine stayed in full sun till the second hot spell in Sept. and I am one and a half miles from the ocean.

Get Dahlias in now. Put bonemeal an inch below them. Stake now.

Plant a couple of cherry tomatoes in a large redwood basket and hang it in the sun. One basket will keep two people in salad tomatoes, as well as being decorative.

This is the month to enjoy all of the annuals you planted last fall. Keep after weeds, and bait for snails, and don't let either get ahead of you this month.

Most plants need fertilizer regularly. Folia feed or get a fertilizer that can be thrown around like snail pellets and doesn't need to be worked in. Fruit trees can't be expected to produce fruit without fertilizer.


Is your patio spilling over with color? It could be!

Mine is brilliant with pots of blue and yellow violas, pansies, blue ageratum, geraniums,a nd white alyssum. But they were all planted in November and December. So reach for your calendar and make a note to plant these things next year in those months. Even a huge redwood tub of yellow marguerites was planted last fall. The petunias blooming now are left over from last year. All in the sun.

Last month, and this month, is the time to be planting containers and tubs, and moss-lined hanging baskets of plants that will bloom clearn thru till next November. To plant now use for Pink: petunias, White: allysum, Blue: ageratum, potato vine, light blue or dark blue lobelia, Yellow: or Orange: dwarf french marigold, Red: fiberous begonia. These are all for sun. Vinca also.

For shade, now, use fuchsia, white allysum and impatients, but this would be light shade.

Small cyclamen can be purchased now for next winter's bloom.

PLANT - Dahlias from now till mid-June. A handful of bonemeal worked into soil below tubers at planting time is good. Take mum blooming bulbs, braid it and bend it over till completely brown. Try cherry tomatoes in a hanging basket, one basket will supply two people all summer. Put cascade mums into 12" pots now.

SPRAY - Watch roses for signs of mildew and spray it as it appears. Usually next month is bad for this. Spray ground too. Systemic granuales with fertilizer will protect from insects and fungicide to get the mildew. Systemic granules completely protect cinerarias, calendula, carnations, and any other plan you knoww that will get insect damage. Most of the garden will not need spray.

PRUNE - Camellias and azaleas after bloom, but only if needed for shaping and only after reading a book on pruning them. Important too is to remove the dead flowers from plants. Know what you are doing here. Sunseet prints a good book on pruning. Prune cape honeysuckle. Many other spring blooming shrubs need pruning after bloom.

PINCH - fuchsias till May Day.

FERTILIZE - lawns - shrubs and trees and bulbs when blooming.

Epiphyllums get top dreing of well-rotted manure. Hydrangeas get camellia food or cottonseed now. KEEP AFTER THOSE SNAILS.

WEED - Don't let it get ahead of you!

Hint: Even if you have poor reusults with petunias in the garden, do try them in container, epecially in moss lined baket where snails can't get them. Only trouble wa leaf minor and you can control that for six weeks at a time with systemic granules. These granule can be bought with or without added fertilizer.

REMEMBER: A garden is a thing of joy and a job forever! - unknown


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.


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!


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.


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.


September is the most difficult time for our Coastal gardens.  Constant watering has filled the soil with harmful salts and heat is often overwhelming.  fuchsias can be lost if treated wrongly.  If the soil is wet don't re-water them on a hot day.  Simply sprinkle why walls and plants nearby and create a humid atmosphere.

Remember, the main objective in the life of every plant is to reproduce itself.  So if you keep all the faded blossoms picked off, you make the plant try to reproduce by putting forth more flowers.

Her is a vacation hint.  If you are to be gone for several weeks, go out and pick off all the flower heads and bud and when you return you will find all fresh flowers.  Washing foliage with 1 T of soap per gallon of water in your spray gun and leaving this on plants will clean the plants and discourage insects.  Do not hit blossoms.  Always spray to hit the underside of leaves.

Epiphyllums:  apply top dressing of dairy manure.

Lawns need 5-10-10 fertilizer and you might buy some winter rye to have on hand to over-seed Bermuda for winter green.  You'll do this in early October.

Prune ivy geraniums.

Salts from summer watering need to be forced deep into the ground now, so water in one place at a time and really soak the area.  Gypsum can be a help here.  When spread like a very light snowfall, on a lawn and deeply watered, lawn will really perk up.

Violas, Iceland Poppies, Stock, Snapdragons, Calendula, California Poppies, Marguerites and Sweet Peas all should go in at once for our winter color.  Get plants in about 4 p.m., either using B-1 or fish fertilizer and whiled from sun part of the nxt day.

Start foxglove seed.

Vegetables for winter use can go in now.  Try Peas, Beets, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Cabbage, and Lettuce.

Cuttings my be made of Geraniums, Pelargoniums and Carnations.

Feed Citrus if you didn't feed last month.  Feed azaleas and camellias for the last time this year.  Feed roses.

Bulbs can be ordered now to plant in containers next month.  A few pots of Freesias to bring indoors evenings, while in bloom.

*Notes added before new printing in May, 1994

Since this book was put together in 1986, I have made some changes in my gardening. The best change is Marathon Two as a lawn.  This lawn never turns brown but is green all year.  We cut it weekly in both directions and leave all the cuttings on the lawn and almost never need to fertilize it.

I have learn to divide day lilies about every three years and find that they will bloom all summer.  I also give them fertilizer often and they are very rewarding.

In a side yard, dahlias grow me enough bouquets to give friends all summer.  When they finally turn brown and must be left, it doesn't spoil the looks of the garden.

Star jasmine for low hedge or on a trellis is one of the best looking and most carefree plants.  A great plant on a fence making a deep green background.

New nasturtiums have been developed where the flowers are held high above the leaves.  Read the seed packages to find these.  They even naturalize in ivy and look beautiful.  Good on hillsides too, and make lovely cut flowers.

I enjoy making my own cuttings of many plants and find I am not bringing diseases into my own garden.

My fuchsias have needed no spraying for years.  I have not brought in new ones.  A number of years ago I used the formula on page 2 and used it about a month before pruning time and after pruning, cleansed the area as well.  The fuchsia mite has never returned.

The dahlias get one feeding of systemic rose granules and after that Osmocote is used to feed for nine months.


This is still time to plant winter and early Spring annuals which are on of our prime garden pleasures in this area.  September would have been much better to give deepers roots and therefore better flowers, but good results can still be obtained thought there will be a somewhat later blooming period and therefore a somewhat shorter period.  Get into the rhythm of September planting her for the longest and best blooming of Iceland poppies, marguerites, blue daisy, snaps, sweet peas, calendula, marigold, stock, viola, pansy, and cinerarias.  Decide to plant winter annuals earlier next year.  Fall can be our busiest time in the garden. 

Try wire baskets line with spaghnum moss of pansies, primula malacoides or viola now.  Use may plants crowded in and add a dash of white sweet alyssum and blue ageratum.  Your very best hanging basket will be Begonia Richmondensis.  Pinch plants to make them full. 

Plant a few pots of primroses to enjoy on a window sill on patio.  We get many months of blooms from primroses.  

October 15 is the last time to feed roses. 

October is a good time to divide day-lilies and later in the month divide many spring blooming perennials.  This can be a busy month cleaning up the summer's lush growth.  Use all healthy plant material for a compost heap.  Early in the month before northern birds arrive, over-seed Bermuda lawns with annual Rye.  If you wait too long, the flocks of migrating birds will enjoy it.  Divide day lilies.

Don't feed or prune any subtropical plants now or the tender growths will freeze later.  

Cut fuchsia feeding in half to promote dormancy.  Disbud camellias.  Shop for Mums while in bloom for good color choice. Cut Mums backs as soon as they finish blooming. 

Shop for spring bulbs and plant as soon as it gets cool. 

Continue to water all winter if there is no rain. 

In late October or early November prune back trees as many get blown over with winter winds that come after rain has loosened the soil. 

Plant a few containers of bulbs.  Enjoy freesias for their fragrance. Bring them indoors on a winter night.  Plant a few pots of bulbs every October and later when they have bloomed just slip out of pot, without disturbing, and gently insert garden when you may enjoy them for years. 

Look around for 2 trees that give fall color… Gingko and Liquid Amber. 

Day Lily - They can be left in for years but only bloom in Spring.  If separated every 2 or 3 years they will repeat bloom all summer. 


November sees the last of mums as they finished blooming and begin to look scraggly, cut stalks to the ground.  I sometimes do some moving a this time while I can still remember the color changes I want to make.  It's better to diving in spring but moving the whole clump now, to a better spot for that color, works very well.  

If you have learned to work for year 'round color you will have had all the spring and winter annuals in since September. If not, you'd do best to fill in now with larger sizes; at least 4 inch pots.  A few gallon sizes of margaritas should do well now also.  Write on your calendar, now, for next September, to put in the less expensive sizes of winter annuals.  Except primroses.  It pays to get them in bloom, so you can choose colors. 

When tuberous begonias have dropped all foliage, dig and wash off.  Clean off all old growth.  Dry in sun for at least 4 days.  Then store in dry, cool and well ventilated place.  Best in a paper bag, not plastic.  

Violas and pansies make a nice winter and spring show here.  Try some moss lined wire baskets of these.  You need 25 plants to a basket.  Planting 5 - 6 stock plants of the same color are more effective than mixed.  Putting purple stock near yellow marguerites is nice. 

Be sure to use systemic insecticide on calendula and cinerarias.  Systemic rose granolas, with fertilizer included, need only be used every six weeks.  Or use liquid systemic spray.  Calendulas usually com in with built-in thrips and cinerarias get leaf miner.  If you don't defeat these in advance, you are wasting your efforts. 

Dahlia clumps can be dug at the end of this month and stored.  Many gardeners in our area just leave them in year after year. Some dig, separate, and replant. 

Bird of paradise needs dead growth cut back and good feeding of cottonseed. 

This month usually sees the last of the destructive worm that has been feasting all summer on zonal geraniums.  Sometimes called tobacco bud worms, or worse, this pest in the form of a white butterfly lays almost indestructible eggs, almost daily on all buds.  You can see the eggs if you look closely.  They are white and pinhead size.  These hatch and make neat round holes in the buds, then come out and really eat the flowers.  Keeping a small dust gun loaded with Sevin will work well and is easy to use.  Once a week, the date after watering, is a good routine. 

Pots of Zonal or Common Geraniums on the patio can be a splash of color all winter and spring and that is when they are at their best her because the worms are dormant.  Some summers I just give up and simply pick all the buds and put them into a paper sack and thus destroy many potential worms. 

Blue daisy or Felicia loves cool weather.  Put in a 1 gallon size now in sun. 

Buy a good book on propagating; most dividing of perennials is done in the fall.  Or volunteer at your local botanic garden to help propagate plants for plant sales.  You'll learn a lot. 

Water if it doesn't rain. 

Try some California poppy seed in yellow or orange.  African daisy seed, now, for long splashes of color.  Water till they germinate.  Lack of rains is the reason for the disappearance of California poppies.  I save a whole cup of seed on year, sowing it to adjacent fields and no poppies appeared.  They need to be constantly we till germinated. 

If you want to try delphiniums, get a sack of dairy manure and work it into  the earth in a sunny spot and let it lay fallow till next month when they should be planted from pony packs. 

Do not fertilize roses or fuchsias this month or next.  This encourages dormancy before we prune in January. 

Watch nurseries for primroses in bloom.  You can choose favorite colors.  i have found when getting then in flats or pony packs, you get mostly dull colors. 

Superphosphate to iris this month. 


Nurseries are continuing to show all the annuals for winter and spring bloom, but many things for the season should have been put it in September and October.  If you buy stock, calendula, snaps and sweet peas, get the 4" pots, more expensive, but it is already late to plant them.  Put it on your calendar for next Aug., Sept., or Oct.  When planting for 4" pots, mix in 1/2 potting mix with the garden soil.  

In the pony packs now violas, pansy, sweet alyssum, and primula malacoides are all good buy and pots and baskets of these will immediately begin to brighten up the winter garden and bloom till June. 

Look thru your nursery for Christmas gifts.  Plants make the right gift for a friend.  A Meyer lemon makes a nice gift.  It is a dwarf and can be grown on a patio in a box for decoration and fresh lemons.  A hanging basket or a container garden could be planted as a gift and if 4" pots of plants were used, the flowers might even be in bloom for Christmas.  Use alyssum, viola, primrose, and primula malacoides, pansy or fibrous begonia.  Place in sun.  The same plants purchased in pony pack size might be about six weeks later in blooming.  25 plants to a large moss basket. 

Relocate shrubs and trees now if needed.  Soak the day before moving. Plant from the nursery all kinds of evergreens. 

Carnations and delphiniums can be planted now, or next month, in full sun in rich soil, containing ample humus.  They are both heavy feeders.  Carnations may get thrip so protect with systemic granules.  Birds feed on tender delphinium sprouts so protect with plastic cherry tomato containers.  Snails love the shoots, too. 

Glads can be planted now and at two week intervals. Put some bonemeal 1" under bulbs, then some soil. 

Azaleas can be planted now in full bloom.  Use peat moss only if you know you can be sure to never let it dry out, as once dried out, it is most difficult to re-dampen. If you can't prevent drying, create a very porous mixture with lots of humus, including some fine fir bark.  Plant at least four inches above surrounding soil for good drainage.  Remember to mulch several times a year as the roots spread along the surface and need to be kept cool. 

Older evergreens may be lightly pruned now.  Use trimmings for Christmas decorations.  I always take enough off my junipers for a wreath.  Smells good too. 

Subtropical plants should not be pruned until all the range of frost is past as the new tender growth may freeze.  This includes lantana, hibiscus, bougainvillea. Last frost date is February 28. 

Pruning tools should be sharpened now and a book on pruning studied as January is a big pruning month, especially for roses and fruit and deciduous trees. 

Prepare sites for new roses to be planted next month.  Enrich the soil and work it up now.  Be sure to get mildew resistant varieties as mildew is the worst problem in this area.  Neighbors can be a big help in giving advice on which are mildew resistant in your neighborhood. 

Irisi may still be fed a handful of superphosphate if you missed doing it last month. 

Foxgloves make nice spikes of color about 5 feet high if Foxy is planted from seed it will bloom in 5 months.  Or buy plants. They do well here in full sun within a few miles of the ocean.  Otherwise, in shade inland. 

Finish planting tulips, anemones, hyacinths, and ranunculus now if you have not already done so.  

Late blooming sweet peas can go in now.  Pinch when 6" high.  Heavy feeders!

Epiphyllums need manure mulch now. 

Feed common geranium in containers every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer with a high bloom factor.  Those in ground should only get bonemeal or superphosphate occasionally. 

Clean the garden well and use a multipurpose spray to get everything off to a fresh start next year. 

Lift Dahlias. 

Happy Gardening 
©Florence Sullivan 1986

     Mrs. Sullivan has taught Basic and Container Gardening at the South Coast Botanic Garden and lectured to Garden Clubs. She has gardened in this area for 25 years. 

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