Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

November, 2009
Regional Report

Dig and Divide

Dig up and divide large clumps of perennial plants. Lily of the Nile, Peruvian lily, lions tail, sea foam statice and Shasta daisy are just a few perennial plants that benefit from an occasional division. Dividing large clumps rejuvenates plants and also increases your stock. Dig the plant from the soil then use a shovel or spading fork to separate individual plants from the main clump. Add organic compost to the planting hole, then return the divisions to the site. Water after dividing and no fertilizer until you see new growth.

Plant Garlic

Now is the ideal time to plant garlic. All you need is a head of garlic from the grocery store, a sunny site and rich, well drained soil. Separate the head into individual cloves and plant, pointed end up, 4 to 6 inches apart in the ground. Don't press them too deeply into the soil; 1 1/2 to 2 inches below the surface is perfect. Harvest the following June.

Care for Indoor Plants

As the outside temperatures drop, the heater goes on inside the house. Dry, warm air is the ideal condition for spider mite, mealybug and scale insects to thrive. Check indoor plants frequently for insect infestation and treat with a soap/oil spray if present. Mist plants frequently to keep humidity high or use a humidity tray made by placing gravel in the saucer under each plant. Water collects in the gravel and evaporates back up through the foliage providing much needed humidity, while preventing the roots from sitting in water.

Ornamental Grass Care

Ornamental grasses get pretty ratty looking this time of year. I like to pull them from the soil, divide the root into several pieces, and then give the divisions a "flat top" before putting them back in place in the garden or in containers. Cover the prepared plants with a thick layer of compost to protect from frosts. Water after you have completed these tasks to settle the soil around the roots. Don't expect them to do much before spring rolls around.

Groom Dusty Miller

Dusty miller (Senecio cineraria) is a beautiful gray foliage plant that is a perfect contrast plant in the garden. The fuzzy foliage seems to pick up light and draw attention to any area it is planted. However, this time of year, the plants have finished their summer bloom and looking pretty bad. Cut back to within 3 inches of the ground if you wish, or simply remove the faded flowers stalks to keep dusty miller compact and lush.

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