Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Keep Indoor Plants Clean
Winter is hard for indoor plants. They are resting and don't need much water; however, humidity is vital for their continued good health. Mist indoor plants frequently to prevent insect pests from becoming established. Also, keep the leaves dusted and clean so that the plants can utilize what little light is available. A shower and a thorough soaking once or twice during the winter is a good idea.
Move Established Plants
Winter is the ideal time to move established plants. If you have, for example, an azalea growing in a location where it is not thriving, dig a new hole in a more desirable location, amend the soil, then dig around the drip line of the established plant until you have a good-sized root ball. Digging under the plant and then tipping the shovel back will loosen the root ball from the soil in one piece. You can drag the plant on the blade of the shovel to its new location, or if it's large, drag it on a tarp. When transplanting, make sure the top of the root ball is 1 inch above the surface of the soil. Apply no fertilizer until you begin to see new growth.
Remove Ivy from Trees
Please do your trees a favor and remove any ivy that is growing up the trunk. It will eventually strangle the tree, plus, the added weight of the ivy will sometimes topple even mighty oaks. If you can't reach vines in upper branches, simply cut a 4- to 8-inch section out the stems near the ground.
Bird Bath Maintenance
Keep a source of fresh water for birds in your garden. Wild birds need to keep their feathers clean in the winter months. To keep the bath clean, simply run a strong jet of water in the bath until it looks clean. Allow the bath to fill and repeat as necessary. A clean bird bath will also provide hours of entertainment. Wild birds are great friends to the gardener by eating insects before they become a problem.
Protect Artichoke Plants from Earwigs
Artichoke plants are susceptible to earwig damage. To prevent an insect infestation later in the season, surround plants with fireplace ashes now. Also, lay out rolls of damp newspaper. Earwigs love to hide in dark, damp places. In the morning, simply remove the rolls of paper and dispose in tightly covered containers (so the earwigs can't escape).