Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2004
Regional Report

Watch for Frost

Move any tender potted plants, such as cymbidium orchids, to a protected spot under eaves or against a south-facing wall until all danger of frost is past. Watch the local weather report, and if you hear that the temperature will drop into the 20s, cover bougainvillea and citrus with bed sheets or burlap.

If frost damage occurs, wait until spring to prune. The frozen foliage will protect viable wood, and pruning promotes new growth, which is most susceptible to frost damage.

Plant Cool-Season Annuals

It's never too late to plant, my darlings! Ornamental kale, nemesia, and cilantro can be planted in cold weather. If you have a spot that needs a jolt of color, plant pansies, calendulas, or stock.

Feed the Birds

Migrating birds will appreciate a temporary backyard oasis. Set out wild bird seed and fresh water, and the birds will reward your effort by cleaning up any remaining insect pests that may be lingering in your garden.

Clean Indoor Plants

Keep the foliage of indoor plants free from dust during the short days of winter. Even a light coating of dust will inhibit photosynthesis. Allow tropicals, such as pothos and marantha, to go slightly dry between waterings, and avoid fertilizer until the days start to get longer.

Caring for Cacti

Stop watering indoor desert cacti now. They need a resting period during the winter months. Resume watering once you begin to see new growth, and if you have done everything just right, you will be rewarded with cactus flowers shortly thereafter. Forest-dwelling cacti, such as the beautiful Christmas cactus, require water all year round.

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