Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2009
Regional Report

Be Gentle!

Be gentle with all seedlings: handle the little plants by their root clumps or leaves rather than stems, and never squeeze them tightly. They will grow new leaves and roots, but can't develop new stems.

Broccoli Harvesting

When harvesting broccoli, cut the head at an angle with a sharp knife. Snapping or cutting flat across the stem leaves creates an uneven surface where water can collect -- since a callous can't form, decay can start. Also, cutting too far down the stem, where it is hollow, provides a cavity that can collect water, and decay can set in. Excessive nitrogen, making the plant grow too fast, causes a hollow stem.

Prune Fuchsias

Fuchsias flower on new wood, so prune either severely for compact growth or lightly for a more draping appearance. Continue to pinch and groom fuchsias regularly throughout the season to direct new growth and encourage more blooming.

Divide Perennials

Divide and replant perennials that are crowded or that had sparse bloom last season. These include agapanthus, Japanese anemone, aster, coral bells, Michaelmas and Shasta daisies, daylily, fountain grass, iceplant, ivy, lantana, phlox, verbena, and yarrow. Water the area the day before to ease digging up the entire root systems. When you separate the clumps, make sure each has a good portion or root system. Add humus to the new planting area, spread roots out, and water to settle them in.

Plant Drought-Lovers

Consider landscaping with plants that thrive under conditions of drought and neglect. Flowering annuals include alyssum, cosmos, gazania, geranium, helichrysum, marigold, morning glory, phlox, portulaca, thunbergia, verbena, vinca, and zinnia. Shrubs include Australian fuchsias, ceanothus, coffee berries, cotoneasters, pineapple guavas, manzanitas, and rockroses, and verbenas (an especially good ground cover). Many beautiful flowering shrubs are naturally drought- resistant and can help birds and small animals survive next winter by providing food and habitat. Dwarf pomegranate, pyracantha, and barberry are excellent choices for fall and winter color. Perennials with great tolerance for drought include achillea, anaphalis, artemisia, asclepias, coreopsis, daylily, dianthus, echinopsis, eryngium, gaillardia, lavandula, potentilla, salvia, santolina, sedum sempervivum, stachys, thyme, and veronica.

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