Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2014
Regional Report

Deadhead Spring-Flowering Bulbs

Daffodils or tulips that you intend to save for next year should have the faded flowers removed. Allowing them to form seeds saps valuable energy from the bulb. By removing the spent flowers, all the energy that would have gone into forming seeds will be used instead for making the bulb strong for next year. Once the foliage begins to yellow, withhold water until the tops are completely dry. At that point, either dig and store the bulbs until fall or remove the foliage, which should pull away easily, and leave the bulbs in the ground.

Remove Spent Flowers from Rhododendrons

This is a sticky job but one that has vast rewards next year. By removing the spent flowers from azaleas and rhododendrons, you encourage new growth to sprout at the base of each flower head. With proper pinching, your plants will be lush and bushy instead of tall and straggly. The spent buds snap off easily between your thumb and forefinger, but take our advice and wear gloves.

Compost Pea Plants

Nothing makes better compost than members of the pea family. Cut vines into small pieces after the plants are through bearing and toss into the compost pile or leave on the surface of the soil to act as mulch. Leave the roots in the ground where the nitrogen nodules can benefit the next crop.

Plant Vegetables

Plant your vegetable garden at the end of the month. The soil will have warmed sufficiently to encourage root growth on warm-season annuals. Corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, basil, and all those things that love the heat can go into the ground now. Protect new seedlings from hungry slugs and snails.

Pinch Fuchsias

Fuchsias bloom only on new wood, so keep pinching those branch tips to encourage lots of new branches. The more branches you have, the more blossoms you will get. Fuchsias are heavy feeders, so don't be shy about pouring on the fertilizer. Any balanced fertilizer is perfect for these showy shrubs.

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