Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
November, 2001
Regional Report

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California poppies bloom well into autumn.

November Isn't Just for Cleaning Up!

There are lots of edibles and ornamentals you can plant to provide food and flowers through the winter. While these plants won't grow much until early spring, they'll have well established root systems ready for the great growth spurt that happens at the arrival of spring's warmer temperatures.

What to Plant

Sow or transplant fava beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard, coriander (cilantro), garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce (especially romaine types and small-heading bibb and buttercrunch types, which thrive with only minimal damage from light frosts), mustards, green and bulb onions, parsley (the flat-leaf type is hardier than the curly one), peas, radishes, shallots and spinaches, especially the curly-leafed savoy types. Be sure to plant garlic, shallots, and bulb onions where they won't get water next May and June, so they'll dry out before harvest in late June and July.

Cover Crops

Sow winter cover crops -- including fava beans, clovers, peas, annual rye, and vetch -- to be turned under in the spring as "green manure." When winter's gloom has settled in, it's nice to see something green besides weeds growing, especially when it will also fertilize the garden in the spring. You don't have to have a large garden to grow a cover crop -- just consider it a lawn that doesn't need mowing.


Sow or transplant alyssum, Japanese anemone, baby's breath, bachelor's button (cornflower), bleeding heart, calendula, campanula (canterbury bell, bellflower), candytuft, columbine, coral bell, coreopsis, cyclamen, gazania, English and Shasta daisies, delphinium, dianthus (carnation, pinks, sweet William), forget-me-not, foxglove, gaillardia, hollyhock, larkspur, linaria, lunaria (honesty, money plant, silver dollar plant), lupine, penstemon, phlox, poppies (California, Iceland, and Shirley types), primroses, rudbeckias (coneflower, gloriosa daisy, black-eyed-susan), snapdragon, stock, sweet peas, violas (Johnny-jump-up, pansy, violet), and regionally adapted wildflowers. Plant colorful ornamental cabbage and kale for vibrantly rich reds, blues, and purples to accentuate other garden colors all winter long.

Shrubs and Trees

Plant azaleas, camellias, forsythias, dogwoods, and oriental magnolias so they'll settle in nicely. Renew acid mulches under azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons. Water them well to make sure they don't dry out from winter sun and winds. Twist off small buds on camellias for fewer but larger blooms. Avoid planting wind-damage-prone trees such as acacia, ash, cypress, elm, eucalyptus, liquidamber, California pepper, and pine.


Plant the spring-blooming bulbs you've been chilling in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks -- primarily crocuses, hyacinths and tulips. Other spring bloomers -- including anemones, daffodils, freesias, narcissus, grape hyacinth, ranunculus, sparaxis -- don't need this prechilling. For a single spectacular bloom period, plant the same type bulbs at the same depth. For longer lasting color, plant them at several depths over several weeks' time. The shallower ones will bloom first, and the deeper ones later.

Annual Flowers

Plant winter annuals above your spring- and summer-blooming bulbs for instant and long-lasting color. Some best bets include calendulas, pansies, Iceland poppies, primroses, and violas. Cyclamen are especially good in fast-draining containers in filtered dappled light. Knee-high sweet peas are wonderful, especially the fragrant ones; but keep blooms picked to encourage continuous bloom.

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