Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Fertilize Rhododendrons & Azaleas
Fertilize rhododendrons and azaleas now as the plants are setting flower buds for better spring bloom. Rake and remove any fallen leaves, prune away dead branches and yellow leaves. Use an acid fertilizer specifically formulated for rhododendrons and azaleas and scratch it into the top few inches of soil around the drip line.
Rejuvenate Summer Annuals
You can probably get one more bloom from your summer annuals such as impatiens and petunias by cutting back the leggy plants. Leave at least 4-inch long stems and a few leaves, then fertilize with a complete liquid fertilizer. Plants should put on new growth and be blooming in a few weeks.
Compost Spent Annuals
Any annual plants finished for the year should be pulled and tossed into the compost pile. Don't compost plants that were severely infected with insects or disease. Add organic compost to the soil and replace the old plants with winter blooming flowers such as pansies or cool season vegetables such as beets or peas.
Thin Camellia Buds
For larger flowers, pinch out all but one bud every 4 inches along camellia branches. Leave buds further down each stem for continuous bloom during the spring. Fertilize plants with 1/2 strength acid fertilizer now, but avoid large amounts of nitrogen because it may cause bud drop.
Reset your irrigation systems to decrease the amount of water for lawns, shrubs, and containers. The days are getting shorter and plants aren't using as much water as they did in high summer. To determine when to water, feel the soil with your fingers. If it's dry 2 inches below the surface, water. If the soil still feels damp, wait a day or two, then check again.