Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Cut Back Perennials
Perennial plants can be cut back just prior to the growing season. Buddleia and leucantha are two perennials that will get leggy and unsightly if left unpruned. Cut these two back all the way to the ground, surround the root zone with a 3 inch layer fresh organic compost, and finally, fertilize with a slow-release product. Ornamental grasses can have the same kind of haircut, only fertilize with lawn fertilizer, 36-0-0.
Cymbidium orchids should be spiking now. If not, apply 0-10-10 or 15-30-15 fertilizer weekly. Protect spikes from slugs and snails by surrounding pots with copper tape, or sprinkle snail bait freely throughout the foliage. Protect potted orchids from frost by placing them against a south-facing wall or under an overhang.
Groom Winter-Blooming Annuals
Icelandic poppies should be deadheaded weekly to keep plants blooming. Pansies appreciate freshly cultivated soil and biweekly applications of 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer. Nemesia needs nothing except admiration and applause. If the foliage on stock (matthiola) looks yellow, apply chelated iron. Groom calendula to remove faded flowers before they go mushy.
Keep Bird Baths Clean and Full
Migrating birds will appreciate a bath to keep their feathers in good shape. Place a shallow saucer in a sunny location away from surrounding shrubs (hiding places for neighborhood cats). Replenish the water daily. You will be amazed at the variety of birds that will visit!
Container plants should not stand in water. Turn saucers upside down to prevent rain from collecting. A blower works well to remove water from large saucers. Use a chopstick or fork to open the surface of the soil on container plants to allow oxygen to reach the roots.
Groom container-grown plants by deadheading and removing faded foliage. Fill any empty spaces with winter blooming annuals.