Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Fertilize rhodies and azaleas now for spring bloom. The plants are just beginning to set buds, so be gentle. Rake and remove any fallen leaves, prune away dead branches and groom plants for yellow leaves. Use an acid fertilizer or one that is specifically formulated for these particular plants and dibble it into the top few inches of soil around the drip line.
Rejuvenate Summer Annuals
You can probably get one more bloom from your summer annuals, including impatiens and petunias, by cutting back leggy plants. Leave at least 4" of stem and a few leaves if possible, then fertilize with a complete liquid fertilizer. Plants should come booming back in a few weeks!
Pull Spent Vegetables and Annuals
Annuals are plants that complete their entire life cycle in one season. They grow from a seed, bloom, set seed, wither and die. Any annual plants that are finished for the year should be pulled and added to the compost pile. Add organic compost to the soil, then replace the old with winter blooming flowers or cool-season crops such as beets, broccoli, cilantro, kale or peas.
Thin Camellia Buds
For larger flowers, pinch out all but one bud every 4" along the branches of camellias. Make sure to leave buds further down each stem for continuous bloom during the spring. Fertilize plants with 1/2 strength acid fertilizer. Large amounts of nitrogen now causes bud drop.
Cut Back Water
Reset your irrigation systems to decrease the amount of water going to lawns and shrubs. The days are getting shorter and plants aren't using nearly as much water as in high summer. Watering of container plants can also be cut back. Feel the soil with your fingers; if it is dry 2 inches below the surface, it's time to water. If the soil still feels damp, wait a day or two, then check again.