Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Plant Winter Annuals
Violas, stocks, calendulas, and primroses should be planted now for winter color. Buy plants with unopened flower buds in cell packs for best value. Fill containers with bright yellow pansies and place them where you can see them from inside the house. Perfect drainage is the key to success with winter containers.
Care for Indoor Plants
Houseplants should have a major cleaning before winter arrives. Take them outside and give them a shower -- complete with soapy water -- to dislodge dust and insect pests. Even a thin layer of dust will inhibit photosynthesis. Repot any indoor plants that have roots growing through the drainage holes. Do not apply fertilizer until the days begin to get longer.
Dig and Store Begonias
When tuberous begonias begin to turn yellow, withhold water. When the plants have dried slightly, dig them up and dry them in a sunny location with the foliage in place. After the leaves have all turned yellow or brown, remove the foliage, wash any remaining soil from the tubers, and dust with sulfur powder to prevent fungus damage. Store in paper bags in a cool, dry area until planting time rolls around again next May.
Put Carnivores to Bed
Well-fed carnivorous plants will go into their winter dormancy soon. Place plants outdoors where they will receive full sun, and frost (if possible). Venus flytraps and pitcher plants will retreat underground for the winter. Tropical nepenthe requires humid conditions so provide plenty of humidity and light throughout the winter months.
Plant Sweet Peas
Fall is the ideal time to plant spring annual and perennial sweet peas from seed. Plant in rich, well-drained soil in sunny locations. Provide support in the form of a fence, stakes, or trellis. Protect seedlings from hungry birds, then stand back! Let the sweet pea explosion begin ...