Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Pamper the Roses
After you have finished your dormant season pruning, add a two-inch layer of sterilized steer manure under the roses. Dibble the manure into the soil for best results. Roses just seem to love manure. If you can find horse manure, so much the better!
Fertilize Forest Cactus
Orchid cactus (Epiphyllum) is related to the Christmas cactus. Both are forest dwelling succulent plants that benefit from continuous heavy feeding. Fertilize liberally with liquid fish emulsion and a balanced slow release fertilizer. Every three weeks add 1/2 strength bloom enhancing fertilizer (0-10-10) to encourage maximum flower production.
Dormant Season Hydrangea Care
Bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophyllla), including florist's hydrangeas that have been planted outdoors or in containers, should first be groomed to remove any dead wood. Once all of the dead wood has been removed, lightly prune for overall shape and size. Plants bloom on second year growth, so tip pruning by simply pinching off the top bud is ideal. Fertilize with aluminum sulfate for blue flowers or super phosphate if your prefer pink.
Patch Existing Lawn Spots
Dead patches in turf grass can be patched by creating a new seed bed. Scratch the surface of the dead area with a metal rake. Next, lay down a layer of fresh potting soil, then liberally sprinkle fresh grass seed over the repaired area. New grass should begin to sprout in a few days. By spring it should be ready to mow.
Early Spring Color
Nemesia, sweet peas, pansies, snapdragons and Primula malacoides are all cool season annuals that can be planted any time between now and spring. Colorful annuals add a jolly touch to a winter weary garden, even if only planted in pots for accent interest. Fertilize biweekly with a bloom enhancing product such as 0-10-10 or 15-30-15 to get the most bang for your buck.