Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2003
Regional Report

Plant Spring Annuals from Seed

Begin planting spring-blooming annuals from seed indoors. Fill seed trays with fresh potting soil and water well. Sow seed in rows on the surface of the soil. Cover with a light dusting of fresh soil, label with variety and date planted, then water lightly with a mister. Place seed trays in a warm, sunny location free from drafts. Cover seed trays with large plastic bags to hold humidity and warmth. Mist daily until germination, then open the bag to allow for air circulation. Remove bag completely when plants seem hardy.

Water Under Eves

Shrubs or container plants that grow under overhanging eves may need water this time of year. Rain water won\'t reach plants that are protected by overhangs. Connect your hose to the faucet and make a tour around your home, watering as you go. Weak plants that are stressed by drought are susceptible to attacks from insect pests.

Keep on the Frost Watch

Clear days with no wind usually indicate cold nighttime temperatures. Protect citrus and succulents if frost is predicted. A covering of newspaper is sufficient. Larger plants, such as bougainvillea, should be protected with burlap, bedspreads, or sheets. For additional protection, place holiday lights in the branches for a source of heat. Mulch around the roots to protect from cold weather.

Purchase Azaleas and Camellias

Select healthy azalea and camellia plants for your garden while they are in bloom to prevent color surprises. Plants are available in nurseries for planting now. Select a site in filtered shade. Dig a wide, shallow hole and amend the soil with ground fir bark to increase acidity, or plant in raised beds filled with organic compost, sand, and some native soil. Place the rootball in the hole so that it is slightly higher than the surrounding soil. Mulch around the base of the plant to keep the soil cool and to prevent moisture loss.

Care for Indoor Plants

Lack of humidity is death for indoor plants. Insects thrive in dry conditions so keep the mister handy and use it frequently. Dusty leaves inhibit photosynthesis, so keep foliage clean by washing plants in the shower or by hand with soapy water and a sponge. Allow tropicals to rest by letting them go slightly dry between waterings.


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