Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

February, 2008
Regional Report

Plant Bulbs for Early Summer Color

For late spring and early summer blooms plant bulbs such as achimenes, agapanthus, amaryllis, tuberous begonias, caladiums, calla lilies, canna lilies, colchicums, dahlias, daffodils, daylilies, gladiolus, bearded and Dutch iris, sternbergias, tigridias, and tuberoses. Prolong the display of anemones, gladiolus, ranunculus, and tigridias by planting every two weeks through March.

Save Gift Amaryllis

An amaryllis that's just finished blooming can be grown, indoors or out, through the fall, and encouraged to bloom again next winter. The bloomed-out stalk can be cut off about an inch above where it emerges from the bulb or allowed to dry up naturally (this allows the plant to reabsorb the energy and store it for the next bloom). Set the plant in a warm, sunny place, water generously, and fertilize regularly through August. Then, let the plant rest a bit, with no fertilizer and only enough moisture to keep the soil barely moist. Be sure not to let the plant dry out at any time, however, or the growth cycle will be interrupted and it may skip or delay the next round of bloom. In September, move the plant to a spot that's sunny but where daytime temperatures are in the 70s and nightime temperatures are above 55. Begin watering and fertilizing with a high phosphorous and high-potash food (the last two numbers of the N-P-K trio), and watch for buds. You may even have two or three separate bloom stalks.

Fertilize Landscape Plants

Feed ground covers, shrubs, roses, perennials, and trees with slow-release food (compost, bone meal, cottonseed meal, blood meal, or well-rotted manure) to provide plants with consistent and gradual nutrition throughout the season.

Start Mowing

Start mowing lawns once the soil has drained sufficiently to support the mower weight. However, keep the mower height high so you cut no more than 25 percent of new growth at one time, or the single grass plants may go into shock. Keep mower blades sharp, since raggedly cut grass blades die back and invite diseases.

Finish Heavy Pruning

Time to finish heavy pruning of dormant fruit trees, shrubs that will bloom in summer and fall, roses, grapes, and berries this month. Beginning gardeners may prefer to wait until they can see where the new leaf and flower buds start growing, so they know precisely where to prune, but don't wait much longer or the foliage will grow so large it camouflages the cue spots!

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