Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

January, 2010
Regional Report

Dormant Spraying

This month's "height" or "depth" of dormancy is time for another spraying of dormant oil for fruit trees, especially if this was not done last month or if it rained within two days of that application. The point is to have the sprayed material on the tree throughout the dormant season, and especially at specific pest growth periods. Choose a day when the temperature stays above 40 degrees and the wind is calm. For peach leaf curl, good fungicides include Bordeaux, Orthorix, or Microcrop. The next critical time for spraying is about mid February, when the buds are swollen but don't yet show color. Spraying at the precise period of bud swell is critical -- before the buds swell is too early, and after the blossoms open is too late. Once the buds open, the damage has already been done.

Plant Bare-Root Fruits and Nuts

Plant bare-root fruit and nut trees (except for citrus and avocados) through early March. Buy trees that have well-developed fibrous root systems, a single well-shaped leader, and no serious bark injury. Avoid trees with circling or tangled roots. Branches should be smaller than the trunk and growing from it at angles more horizontal than 45 degrees.

Plant Your Gift Poinsettias

Acclimating gift poinsettias to the cold outdoors before planting them into the garden is easy. First, clip overlong branches after the third node to encourage bushier growth. Place the plant in a sunny spot outdoors that's protected from wind for several hours each day, and a cool spot indoors at night. Keep its soil moist, and feed it a slow-release or quarter-strength regular fertilizer every week or so. After a week or two, plants should survive a full day outdoors in the protected spot. After another month, they can be successfully transplanted into the garden.

Cutting Back Crape Myrtles

Besides pruning crape myrtles to reshape the overall bush or tree shapes, cut back severely to force growth of new flowering wood.

Hold Off Pruning Spring Bloomers

Wait to prune spring-flowering ornamentals until just after they bloom. Pruning now will remove the wood that already has bloom buds set inside, stimulate frost-tender new growth, and possibly remove wood that was not truly dead.

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