Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
The secret to harvesting sweet, not bitter, chamomile flowers for tea is to pick them just when the petals begin to bend down toward the petiole and the center begins to turn brown. German chamomile is the preferred variety for tea. It has a sweeter flavor and grows better in clay soil.
Check Self-Watering Pots
Self-watering pots will only work if there is water in the reservoir. Now that the days are getting longer, plants are using more water. Check to see if pot reservoirs need filling. You can add 1/4 strength fertilizer solution in the reservoir. Use a funnel for narrow openings.
Many perennial plants are just beginning to emerge. Astilbe, aquilegia, tarragon and helleborus should be treated with a fresh layer of organic compost to supply necessary nutrients for the early spring burst of growth.
Groom Japanese Maples
Japanese maples (Acer japonica) traditionally have a lot of dead twigs among the branches this time of year. Use hand shears to remove any wood that is no longer viable. By removing the dead stuff, you increase air circulation and light to the interior of the tree when new growth begins.
Care for Cyclamen
Potted cyclamen plants grow from a bulb. To water, do not get the bulb wet -- watering is best done by submerging the pot. To keep plants blooming well into spring, add 1/2 strength bloom-enhancing fertilizer every time you water.