Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Plant Spring-Blooming Bulbs
It's time to take your spring-blooming bulbs out of the refrigerator and plant them in the ground. Find a bed that will be in full sun when the bulbs are blooming. Amend the soil prior to planting with bone meal and organic compost. Scatter the bulbs by hand over the area to be planted for a natural look. Dig the holes twice as deep as the circumference of the bulb and add a tablespoon of superphosphate fertilizer. After planting the bulbs, overplant the bed with spring-blooming annuals such as pansies, stock or calendula.
Kill Moss on Shady Sidewalks
Moss can cause sidewalks to become slippery, even dangerous. Muriatic acid, the common remedy for killing moss, is toxic and hazardous to use. Here is a nontoxic method to kill unwanted moss on concrete, brick or paved surfaces. Home Made Moss-B-Gone: Dissolve 1 cup salt in1 quart hot water. Mix in 1 gallon white vinegar, 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid, and the juice from two lemons. Apply to plants using a garden sprayer or a watering can with a rose head. Apply when no rain is predicted for 72 hours. Protect nearby plants from overspray. If plants are accidentally splashed or sprayed, wash immediately with fresh water.
It's time to wake up your amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs. They should have been allowed to rest in their pots in a cool, dry location over the summer. If so, remove the bulb from the pot and repot with fresh potting soil. Add 1 tablespoon of superphosphate fertilizer to the potting mix to encourage root growth and flower production. Water, then place the refreshed pot in a bright, not sunny, location indoors. Amaryllis are tropical bulbs and do not need refrigeration to encourage bloom.
If you didn't fertilize azaleas, rhododendrons, and dogwoods earlier in the season, now is your last chance to enhance the spring bloom. Scratch the fertilizer into the top 1 to 2 inches of soil. Use an acid fertilizer formulated especially for rhododendrons.
Indoor Plant Care
Winter is a resting period for indoor plants, when you water less and apply no fertilizer. It's important to keep the foliage on indoor plants free of dust to prevent insect infestations. Spidermites and mealybugs thrive in warm, dry conditions -- exactly the same as inside your home when the heater is on. Use saucers filled with gravel and water to increase humidity, and mist plants frequently.