Yeah, spring is just around the corner. Allow me to give you some pointers to get you motivated and started on a beautiful garden.
1) Start Planting
Aren’t we lucky to live in Northern California? Yes indeed, you can now get a start on prepping and planting in your garden while the rest of the country is still deep in winter. This month, it is safe to plant:
- Bare-root stock. This includes fruit trees, shrubs, roses, berries, and grapes. Along the coast, plant at any point this month. In inland regions, wait until air and soil temperatures move above freezing.
- Hardy annuals. Begin planting annuals such as calendula, poppies, pansies, and English daisies this month. Direct sow these beauties into prepared garden soil.
- Primroses. Along the coast, where warmer temperatures prevail, tuck primroses (Primula vulgaris) into pots outside, or use to brighten indoor rooms. Add polyanthus primroses, the multiflowered types, to garden beds. Where temperatures are still on the chilly side inland, count on pots of primroses to sound a colorful note on windowsills.
- Cool-season veggies. Start seeds indoors for cool-season edibles, such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuces, and onions. Use fluorescent lights to improve seedling growth. Plant these veggies three to six weeks before they should be moved into the garden.
2) Do Some General Garden Cleanup
- Remove leaves that may have blown in during winter. Cut down any remaining perennial stems, taking care not to damage emerging shoots.
- Clip ornamental grasses before new stems appear. To make quick work of large clumps of grass, bind stems together using a bungee cord. Cut stems beneath the cord using electric hedge clippers.
3) Apply Dormant Spray
Spray ornamental plants before they leaf out — while they’re still dormant. This is probably the most important spray of the year to control insect problems. Many diseases and insects (or their eggs) overwinter on plants or in leaf litter in beds. Spraying while plants are dormant allows you to use a stronger blend of lime-sulfur and horticultural oil, which will kill eggs, insects, and disease spores.
Follow label instructions carefully. In general, spray on a warm day (above 40 degrees F) with no precipitation or freezing temperatures predicted for eight hours after application. Apply horticultural oil and lime-sulfur in separate sprays spaced at least two weeks apart.
4) Prune Trees, Shrubs, Bushes and more
Now would be a good time to clean and sharpen your pruning tools and get pruning.
- Roses. In warmer areas near the coast, prune roses now. Remove dead, diseased, or damaged canes. Cut Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, and Grandifloras to 12-18 inches tall. Prune established shrub roses to 36 inches and remove any tiny twigs (ones that are smaller than a pencil in diameter).
- Fruit trees. Prune fruit trees to improve tree form and enhance bearing. Check online or with your local cooperative extension office for details on shaping fruit trees.
- Flowering trees. You don’t want to trim off developing buds and rob yourself of the beauty of spring blooms. In fact, as a rule of thumb, prune flowering shrubs and trees within a month after they stop blooming. But do trim late-summer or fall-blooming trees and shrubs, including Abelia, Mimosa, Cassia, Oleander, Crape Myrtle, Princess Flower (also called Tibouchina), Golden Rain tree and Hibiscus.
- Shrubs. Shape, shorten, and thin shrubs. Don’t prune spring-blooming shrubs until after they flower.
5) Deal with Moss
Moss thrives in places with high moisture, limited sunlight, and little air circulation. Treat moss using commercially available products. In lawns, if moss is present, sunlight may not be abundant enough for grass to grow. You may need to convert to ground covers.
Use the right product in the right place. Lawn moss controls may contain iron, which stains concrete surfaces. Moss controls for roofs and concrete contain zinc, which may harm plants.
6) Start Seeds Indoors
They need gentle, constant moisture but not too much or they’ll get damping-off. (Running a fan in the room helps.)
Also, give them as much light as possible.
Keep grow lights just an inch or two above the plants.
You can read more about planting seedlings here
As you consider additions and replacement for your garden, keep winter interest in mind. Would your garden benefit from evergreens, berried plants, or shrubs with colorful bark? Perennials with strong stems that stand up to snow also enhance a winter scene.