Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

January, 2006
Regional Report

Sharpen Pruning Tools

A sharp knife cuts best, and so it is true with pruning tools. Keep clippers and loppers sharp with a metal file. The file should be used on only one side of the blade at a 20- to 25-degree angle. Pull the file in one direction rather than scraping back and forth. Pruning saws can be sharpened with a small round file pulled between the teeth. Oil blades after sharpening to prevent rust.

Groom Primroses

Groom primroses to encourage flowering. Recent rains have spotted the flowers on delicate Primula polyanthus, so remove spent or damaged flowers at the base of the stalk and fertilize with 0-10-10 to encourage more blooms.

Cultivate Soil

Cultivate garden soil to incorporate oxygen to the roots of winter-blooming bedding plants, such as pansies, snapdragons, stocks, and primroses. Pansies love cultivated soil and will respond with increased blooms. Cultivation also discourages slugs and snails and dislodges any weed seeds that may be starting to germinate with the longer days.

Caring for Daphnes

Encourage daphne to stay healthy by raking the soil under the shrub. Daphne is one of those plants that likes to be planted high in the soil. Fallen leaves or debris collected near the base of the plant will cause lack of air circulation near the trunk, one reason that these delicate plants fail.

Clean Under Camellias

Pick up fallen camellia flowers to prevent the spread of blossom blight. Camellias are spectacular winter bloomers, and every precaution should be made to keep them free of airborne fungus disease, such as petal blight. Do yourself, and your neighbors, a favor by keeping the soil under camellias clean.

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