Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

February, 2007
Regional Report

Water Trees and Shrubs

With the winter rains coming late this year, your garden may need water. Water trees and shrubs with a soaker hose to drive moisture deep into the soil. Water under eaves and overhangs, and make sure containers are damp. We may have a wet February/March, but in the meantime, get those hoses out of storage!

Deadhead Spent Flowers

Pansies, primroses, early bulb flowers, and other blooming plants can develop fungus disease if the flowers are not removed. Deadheading also promotes prolonged bloom in annual plants, and has the added benefit of bringing you closer to your garden.

Check Indoor Plants for Insect Pests

A dry, warm indoor environment provides ideal conditions for an array of insect pests that attack houseplants. Where they come from is anybody's guess, but come they will. Mist frequently to increase humidity, and keep your eyes peeled for signs. Just this morning I found mealybugs on my rhipsalis! Insecticidal soap will take care of most insect problems.

Prune Fuchsias

Prune frost-tender fuchsias just as winter comes to an end. Pruning stimulates new growth, so by waiting until late in the season you eliminate the danger of frost damage. Fuchsias can withstand severe pruning. Hanging plants can be cut back to several inches from the surface of the soil. Leave a basic five-branch framework so that new growth has a good shape.

Prune Deciduous Trees

Prune and shape deciduous trees while they are still dormant. Use a pole pruner to remove any dead, diseased, or injured wood first. Next, remove any growth that crosses through the center of the branching structure to improve air circulation. Double trunks or weak crotches should be identified and removed. When removing large branches, make your cut on the outer side of the branching collar. (The branching collar is an area of slightly wrinkled wood at the base of each branch. It is a fast-growing bark that covers wounds in a short period of time.) If you remove a branch too close to the trunk, the tree may take longer to heal and allow insect pests, canker, and fungus disease to develop.

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