Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2000
Regional Report

Plant Asparagus

Now is the time to plant asparagus from bare-root stock. Dig a trench 1 foot wide and 8 to 10 inches deep. The plants should be spaced 1 foot apart, setting them in the soil so that the tops, or crowns, of the roots are 6-8 inches below the top of the trench. Spread the roots out on the bottom of the trench and cover the roots with only 2 inches of rich garden soil. As the plants begin to grow, fill in the trench gradually with soil, but never cover the growing tips.

Purchase Azaleas and Camellias

Select healthy azalea and camellia plants for your garden while they\'re in bloom to get just the color you want. To plant, select a site in filtered shade. Dig a wide, shallow hole and amend the soil with ground fir bark to increase acidity. You can also plant in raised beds filled with organic compost or sand mixed with the native soil. Place the root ball in the hole so that it\'s slightly higher than the surrounding soil. Mulch around the base of the plant to keep the soil cool and to preserve moisture.

Prune Roses

Now is the perfect time to prune roses. First, remove any dead, diseased, or injured wood. Next, remove any branches that cross through the center of the plant, to increase air circulation and prevent fungus disease. Finally, prune for shape. The ideal shape for most garden roses is that of a vase, with five or seven main stems coming from the graft. If possible, prune to an outward-facing bud to prevent new growth from crossing back through the plant. Vigorous rose types such as hybrid teas and grandifloras can be cut back to 18 to 24 inches from the ground.

Watch for Frost


Clear days with no wind usually indicate cold nighttime temperatures. Protect citrus and succulents if frost is predicted. A covering of newspaper or row cover for smaller plants is sufficient. Larger plants such as bougainvillea should be protected with burlap, bedspreads, or sheets. For additional protection, place holiday lights in the branches under the sheets as a source of heat.

Remove Saucers from Container Plants

To prevent the water of winter rains from accumulating in saucers under container plants, making it hard for the soil to ever dry out, remove the saucers from under the plants until spring. Plants left standing in water with soggy soil are susceptible to root rot and fungus diseases.

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