Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2000
Regional Report

Plant Prechilled Bulbs

Plant the spring-blooming bulbs such as crocus, hyacinth, and tulip that you've been chilling in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks. Other spring-blooming bulbs, such as anemones, daffodils, freesias, narcissus, grape hyacinth, ranunculus, and sparaxis, don't need prechilling. For a single spectacular bloom period, plant the same type of bulbs at the same time and depth. For longer-lasting color, plant the same type of bulbs at several depths over several weeks' time. The shallower ones will bloom first and the deeper ones later.

Sow Annual Flowers

For a complementary crop of flowers that bloom before, during, and after spring bulbs, sow seeds or plant seedlings of low-growing annual bloomers after you've planted the bulbs. When you're planting, think of color contrasts such as purple pansies with yellow daffodils or white alyssum with red tulips. Good annual flower choices include calendulas, pansies, Iceland poppies, primroses, dwarf snapdragons, dwarf stock, and violas. Sow seed thickly, water the area, mulch it lightly, and keep it moist.

Prune Evergreens

Prune and shape evergreens such as arborvitae, juniper, magnolia, pine, pittosporum, and spruce. Pruning these evergreens now is a great way to get trimmings for holiday decorations while manicuring the plants. Don\'t let your zeal spread to spring-blooming shrubs, however, or you\'ll cut off the blooms for spring. Prune those plants after they flower.

Dig-in Manure

Before the soil absorbs too much rain, dig-in manure and compost. These amendments will break down over winter, improve soil structure and improve the water drainage of the soil. The nutrients will be available when seeds are sown and transplants begin to grow vigorously in spring.

Lay Plastic to Heat Soil

To help concentrate daytime warmth and increase germination, cover annual flower and vegetable beds with clear plastic sheeting. Anchor the edges with soil or rocks to keep out slugs and others who love the succulent sprouts, and to keep the sheeting from blowing away. Once seeds germinate, remove the plastic and let them grow.


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