In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
November, 2012
Regional Report

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Ornamental cabbage is also edible, although not as delicious as it green and red vegetable garden cousins.

Transitioning the Flower Garden

After chrysanthemums finish blooming, cut their stems to about three inches from the soil, and mark their location with a stake since even that amount of wood will die back by spring.

Trim fuchsias only to shape them, but wait to thoroughly prune them until late spring, after the plants have leafed out. Root the hardwood portions of these and geranium cuttings in a protected outdoor area for more plants.

Prune roses lightly to remove the long, bloomed-out canes, but save hard pruning until January, when plants are fully dormant. Severe pruning now will encourage new growth which will freeze with the first frosts, wasting all that plant energy.

Stop Watering
For the last time, water cacti and succulents that will go dormant during the winter. If they are in containers, place them under house eaves or other cover so they'll still receive bright light but winter rains won't drown or rot them. Normal humidity will be sufficient moisture for them over the winter.

Plant colorful ornamental cabbage and kale for vibrantly rich reds, blues, and purples to accentuate other garden colors all winter long.

Plant azaleas, camellias, forsythias, and Oriental magnolias so they'll settle in nicely. Renew acid mulches under azaleas and camellias. Water them well to make sure they don't dry out from winter sun and winds. Twist off small buds on camellias for fewer but larger blooms later this winter.

Plant the spring-blooming bulbs you've been chilling in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks -- primarily crocuses, hyacinths and tulips. Other spring bloomers -- including anemones, daffodils, freesias, narcissus, grape hyacinth, ranunculus, sparaxis -- don't need this prechilling. For a single spectacular bloom period, plant the same type bulbs at the same depth. For longer lasting color, plant them at several depths over several weeks' time. The shallower ones will bloom first, and the deeper ones later.

Plant winter-color annuals above your spring- and summer-blooming bulbs for instant and long-lasting color. Some best bets include calendulas, pansies, Iceland poppies, primroses, and violas. Cyclamen are especially good in fast-draining containers in filtered dappled light. Knee-high sweet peas are wonderful, especially the fragrant ones; but keep blooms picked to encourage continuous bloom.

Fertilize lawns with slow-release nitrogen for gradual, consistent feeding all winter long. Continue to mow the lawn as long as it still grows to encourage branching of individual grass plants for a thicker, healthier lawn that chokes out weeds. Rake leaves off the lawn to allow air, light, and fertilizer to reach the soil surface.

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