Anita Noone grows vegetables, flowers, and fruit in her Rancho Santa Fe, California garden.
While other parts of the country are firmly entrenched in winter, the acacia trees, pansies, camellias, succulents, and other blooming plants are saying, "Spring!" to us. Take note of the plants that look lovely this time of year if your garden needs a January boost.
Think About Deciduous Fruit Trees. You can prune anytime this month, if it's not raining. If you have rain on that Saturday you set aside, consider it an opportunity to inspect and sharpen your pruning tools.
Spraying Savvy. Organic dormant sprays are now widely available, if you choose to treat your trees. Spray after pruning and before your trees bud out. Spray when there is no rain expected to get the maximum benefit.
Save Space for Perennial Veggies. Make way for strawberries, artichoke, asparagus, and horseradish. All of these vegetables will produce year after year with little care and can be an attractive part of the landscape.
Flower Power. Camellias and azaleas look great this time of year and add lots of color to the garden. It is a good time to buy camellias because, unlike most plants, they like to be transplanted when they are in bloom.
Tree Shopping. Now is a good time to shop for deciduous trees. Without their leaves, it is easy to see the structure of the tree; improper pruning when the tree is still in the can at the nursery may be impossible to correct later. Shop at a nursery that has a good selection of the tree you want and talk to the nursery staff about the best structure for that particular tree.
Perennial Pleasures. There are many attractive perennials that can go in the ground now: centaurea ("Dusty Miller"), many species of daisies, digitalis ("foxglove"), penstemon, achillea ("yarrow"), and agapanthus ("lily of the Nile").
What Not to Plant. Right now, avoid tomatoes and other warm season vegetables and warm season grasses, such as bermuda. You should also resist any bulbs that are soft, very light for their size, or already growing.
The days are getting longer this month and rain should be expected. Watering won't be a chore if Mother Nature helps out. No need to irrigate if the temperatures are seasonable (the average high temperature at the coast is 65 degrees, 68 degrees inland) and it rains every 7 - 10 days. February is still a month of dormancy, but spring surely feels like it is upon us.
Radiant Roses. You can still successfully plant bare root roses. By mid-month, you should begin irrigating all of your roses, if there is no rain. Water and mulch deeply to get your roses off to a good start.
Thin Out Old Canes on Climbing Roses. Any sort of pruning can be a dangerous activity, but add thorns, and you really need to be careful. Take time to begin with eye-protection, gloves, substantial shoes, and long sleeves and pants; take time when you finish to mulch your roses.
Plant California Poppies. But before you do, make sure that rain is expected. Rake an area of bare soil, broadcast the seed, and hope for rain. The poppies are eye-popping in bloom, and can reseed from year to year.
Don't Fertilize Natives. Though most plants will be ready for fertilizer sometime this month, natives are the exception. Don't fertilize natives or other Mediterranean-climate plants, but keep planting them as long as the cool weather continues.
Cool Camellias. You've probably noticed camellias blooming over the last month or so. The red, white, and pink blossoms brighten up the winter months and do well in pots or in the ground. Unlike most plants, camellias are best transplanted when blooming, so now is a good time to plant one in a shady spot.
Evergreen Transplanting. Evergreens transplant well now, while the weather is still cool and the soil is damp from rain.
Lose the Legs. Cut back leggy fuchsias and begonias in the ground by one-half or more. Fuchsias and begonias in pots should be cut back so that there is only a few inches of stem. Feed lightly and see how bushy and beautiful your plants become.
Feed Citrus and Avocado. Make sure the soil around the tree trunk is bare to the root line. Allowing a lawn to grow up to the trunk of your ornamental citrus or underplanting with flowers may result in the equivalent of strangulation.
Veggie Delights. It's still too early for heat lovers such as tomatoes to be set out — even if you find them in nurseries. Look for beet, broccoli, dandelion (and most other leafy greens), cauliflower, onion, radish, and carrot.
Iris, azaleas, ranunculus, and many types of wild flowers are in bloom as spring takes hold. Water needs will increase with warmer weather and longer day length. It is likely that we will still get some significant rainfall this month, so check before you water, and don't water if the top few inches are wet. Extra time spent mulching now will insulate your plants from unseasonable temperatures, whether hot or cold.
Veggie Delight. Beet, carrot, leafy greens, radish, and turnip are cool-season plants that are almost guaranteed to do well if you plant them at the beginning of the month. By mid-month it may be too late to plant these crops from seed.
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot. These heat lovers may languish if you put them in now: basil, beans, corn, eggplant, tomato, squash, and melon. Warm-season plants can be put in the ground as soon as temperatures rise; by next month they are a sure bet.
Still Time For Roses. It's not too late to plant bare root roses, if you can find them. You are more likely to find bushes bursting with new growth, at a slightly higher price. Roses are hardy plants for the most part and a little drought won't bother an established plant. However, for best bloom and pest-resistance, water deeply at least once a week, twice if your soil is sandy.
Watch For Aphids. These small sucking insects that are the same color as the plant they are damaging. Aphids can be effectively controlled with a strong blast of water from the hose. Ladybug beetles are the aphid's predator; it's a good sign when you see them in the garden.
Bedding Buddies. Many beautiful bedding plants can be found in the nursery now: marigolds, ageratum, lobelia, petunia, and flax. When you purchase annuals at the nursery, look for small plants that are not in flower. Chances are the small plants are not too root bound and will establish and grow more rapidly. Small plants are also less expensive.
Landscaping Ideas. Assess damage from winter storms now that the weather has turned mild. If rain eroded a slope, consider planting a mix of annuals, perennials, bushes, and trees. California native plants do a great job of holding soil and they attract wildlife. Lemonade berry, scrub oak, matilija poppy, yarrow, California lilac, and buckwheat are all good choices. Non-natives that will do the job well include rockrose, rosemary, and acacia.
Lovely Lawns. Lawns usually look great this time of year — both warm and cool season grasses are growing. This is a good time to start a lawn from either sod or seed, but be vigilant about watering until your turf is established.
April is the month when gardens are likely to be at their colorful best. Innumerable bedding plants, perennials, and landscaping plants are flowering now, and they may inspire you to plant during this spring planting season. Despite all of the full-grown plants you see at the nursery, don't ignore the seed rack. April's warm days will help you sprout seeds quickly and there's still a chance of rain.
Consider Azaleas. You can see many beautiful plants in bloom now, and like the camellias you saw in January and February, azaleas are dormant when they bloom. Now is a good time to transplant azaleas; after blooming they will develop new growth.
Wonderful Wisteria. These showy, fragrant vines are appealing throughout the year and are drought-tolerant once established. If you plant wisteria, be sure to put a sturdy support in place before the plant goes in the ground. Wisteria can get very big — and very heavy — in short order.
Poinsettia Power. If you have poinsettias in the ground, you should prune them down to two or three dormant buds this month or next. Look for the old wood on the stem and prune back to two joints above that wood. Abutilon and hibiscus are two other tropical shrubs that may be heavily pruned now to shape and renew them.
Orchard Opulence. Almond, apple, apricot, fig, grape, kiwi, jujube, nectarine, persimmon, plum, and pomegranate may all be successfully planted now. Carefully consider the growing habit and eventual height of the tree when choosing a site.
Search Tree Bases For Suckers. Use the edge of a sharp spade to knock off these bright green sprouts. If you do not remove them, they will weaken the tree and distort its shape.
Valuable Veggies. Beans, carrots, cantaloupes, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, summer squash, tomatoes and watermelon may be planted this month. Coastal and inland lows hovering around 50 degrees, and highs reliably around 70, account for the mix of both summer and winter vegetables. Consider what space you have and add sets or seeds of vegetables.
Buy Winter Annuals. Purchase snapdragons, primrose, stock, and the like only to quickly — and briefly — fill in a space in the border. The warm weather means these lovelies will bolt and set seed soon. Better to wait until next fall to plant them.
Time for Annual Planting. For the heavily irrigated border, try petunia, bedding begonia, coleus, impatiens, and asters. Less water is required for marigolds, sweet alyssum, portulaca, cosmos, and gloriosa daisy.
Natural Natives. Some natives are still blooming in gardens and undisturbed areas. This is a good time to visit parks and demonstration gardens to see native plants. If you have native plants that have bloomed, you can collect the seed now and keep it in a cool, dry place until next rainy season.
Gardeners who planted last fall now see the fruits of their labors. The slightly bruised and sad looking bush or twiggy tree you set out in October is full of vigor after the winter rains. All plant life surges with growth this time of year, except some natives. With the rains pretty much over for this season, natives are hunkering down for a semi-dormant period. The desert areas and inland valleys are heating up now, exacerbating the effects of the lack of rain. Two important garden chores between now and the next rainy season will be maintaining mulch and watering deeply.
Pinching Perennials. Soft-stemmed perennials, such as fuchsia and salvia, like to have their tips pinched. Pinching back the tips now will encourage an attractive bushy shape and lots of flowers.
Fall Flavor. For fall color, plant small rooted cuttings of chrysanthemums. Now is a good time to plant mums, or to divide your own plants.
Plant Your Zinnia Seeds. Zinnias are one of the very best summer cutting flowers. Your grandmother's favorite is probably still available, but there are many new varieties as well.
Heavenly Herbs. Lavenders, santolina, and rosemary need occasional pruning to maintain their shape and health. You can use hedge shears for this job, and save the cuttings for decorative swags or cooking. Gray santolina cuttings may be put in the closet or sweater drawer; they deter moths.
Start Annual Herbs. Try basil, cilantro, and dill. Consider planting them with your annual vegetables, as they appreciate the same culture as tomatoes, corn, peppers, and melons.
Plant Traditional Veggie Garden Plants. Sow beans, cantaloupes, carrots, cucumbers, corn, parsnips, pumpkins, spinach, chard, radishes, squash, and watermelon from seed. If you want to grow big pumpkins, get your seed in the ground by mid-month and prepare to water and fertilize heavily. Eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers may be direct-seeded or set out as transplants.
Plant Citrus Now. Avocado, macadamia, banana, and passion fruit can also go in now. Remember that these plants will need plenty of water until they are established. Because the warm months are these plants' growing season, they need food. Apply organic fertilizer available in bags at the nursery, or apply your own compost. In either event, water well before and after application.
Lawn Care. All turf grasses are growing now and may be successfully planted. Even, frequent watering is the key to a beautiful lawn in our arid region.
Late night and early morning low clouds is the refrain for June. Most years June Gloom reliably covers the sky for a portion of most June days, except in the warmest inland valleys. The cloudiness can be deceiving, because the days are warm, and getting warmer, and there's usually no rain in sight.
Lawn Care. Now is the best time of the year to plant Zoysia grass, a tough and beautiful grass grown from stolons or plugs. The grass is drought-tolerant, chokes out weeds on its own, and is bothered by few pests. It has a long dormant period in the winter, when it is brown, although new varieties shorten the dormant period.
Landscaping With Irises. You should consider dividing your iris clumps if they did not produce as many flowers this spring as in past years. Dig up the entire clump and discard any underground portions that look diseased, atrophied, or moldy. Using a knife, cut the clump into divisions that include a fan of leaves and five inches of underground growth (the rhizome). Replant the same day, if at all possible.
Divide Your Flowers. Clivia and agapanthus may be divided now, but the number of their blooms next year will be diminished. Unlike iris, these plants will increase in size and bloom as long as their roots are not disturbed.
Keep On Plantin'. You can still plant bush and pole beans through the end of this month and the beginning of next. Other heat lovers to plant now include lima bean, chayote, corn, cucumber, melon, pepper, squash, chard, tomato, and watermelon. It may be best to buy transplants of tomatoes at this time of year, and plant them deeper than they were in their nursery pot. Consider planting cucumbers, lettuce, basil, and carrots on the north side of your taller plants.
Corn Earworm. Corn earworms enter the corn at the silk end of the ear and eat the corn, leaving unsightly brown frass behind. To prevent the damage, drop some mineral oil on the silk at the top of each ear, three to seven days after the silk appears. Or consider sharing with the earworm. If you plant a few extra corn plants, you will have enough to simply cut off and discard the damaged end.
Pruning Time. Climbers can be pruned after their spring bloom fades. Continue to deeply water all roses and renew mulch if necessary.
Herb Harvest. Herbs may be harvested in the summer, washed, patted dry, and then frozen in a bag or container. Annual herbs, like parsley and basil, need lots of water to thrive in the summer. On the other hand, the woody, Mediterranean imports, like rosemary and thyme, thrive with much less water.
Super Succulents. Succulents transplant well now, and can provide bloom and beauty that may be hard to find with conventional bedding plants. The common jade plant provides year-round shiny green leaves and blossoms in December. Many other tidy, non-invasive succulents add interest in the border. Just take care that you find a place where they will not receive much water.
Mulch Native Plants. Mulch will insulate the plants from temperature extremes and help make the best use of water. Plants new to your garden will need irrigation this summer, but make sure you water deeply. The roots of native plants can reach down into the soil in excess of ten feet; some go as deep as 30 or 40 feet. Established plants can go long periods during the summer without any water.
Most areas will have considerable heat this month, although clouds may hang around at the coast. The heat and dryness mean that you are on vacation from most planting chores. Harvest your vegetables, stay on top of your watering chores, and enjoy the bounty of the summer.
Planting Time. Tropical and sub-tropical plants may be planted this month. Biennials, such as foxgloves, may be started from seed.
Don't Forget to Deadhead. 'Dead-heading' (picking spent flowers) is a good practice in general, but especially important with large landscape plants, such as hydrangeas. Once hydrangeas are finished blooming, they may be cut back severely, leaving only two buds. Don't prune the green hydrangea stems that didn't bloom. They should bloom next year.
Landscaping Tip. Vincas, marigolds, and portulaca may be added to the landscape to fill in empty places. They stand up well to the heat of the summer. Remember to give your transplants some extra water while they are getting established.
Don't Water Native Plants This Month. Watering now may encourage crown or root rot. Imitate mother nature, and wait until there is at least the possibility of rain in the fall before you water.
Veggie Planting. You can add sets of basil, cucumber, eggplant, melon, pepper, and tomato, if you have any room in your vegetable garden. More likely, you are spending time trying to stake and trellis what you already have growing. Remember that tomatoes are raised for their fruit, not their greenery. Clip suckers off tomato plants and continue to lightly prune throughout the growing season.
Keep an Eye on Ripening Vegetables. Summer squash should be picked while the skin is still thin. Use the squash flowers in stir fries, in salads, or stuffed and steamed.
Water in the Orchard. Regular and deep watering encourages a strong, healthy root system. If avocado or citrus dry out, they may drop fruit.
Bulb Tip. Harvest the flowers from your summer-flowering bulbs and do not allow the plant to set seed. Producing and ripening seed requires energy that the plant should be devoting to the bulb, so that next year the plant has plenty of strength to bloom.
August can be a challenging gardening month in arid regions. If parts of your garden look bedraggled, you are probably saving on your water bill. One look at areas landscaped by nature will convince you that August is a time of semi-dormancy in our dry climate. Don't despair — sow seeds for winter annuals now and irrigate them carefully. Your plants will be well-rooted when the winter rains take over.
Rose Blossoms Are On Their Way. Scrutinize your rose bushes and see if there are a few judicious pruning cuts that you can make. Major pruning must wait until January, but cutting out a few spindly branches growing from the bush's center now means more blooms in September and October. Remember that roses always bloom at the tips of healthy branches and shape accordingly. Continue to water and mulch.
Keep Harvesting and Inspecting Tomatoes. Watch out for hornworm! These insects blend in perfectly with the foliage of the vines, but they are big, and leave only a stem where leaves once were. Hand-pick these critters before they defoliate and weaken your plants.
Planting Winter Veggies. You can plant winter squash, lima beans, and corn from seed now. Sprinkle the seeds with water often until they sprout. When the days are very warm, watering your seed bed four times a day is not too much.
Potted Plant Care. Group potted plants together to insulate them and be vigilant about your plants' water needs. Even succulents may succumb to the combination of August heat and too little water.
Vacation Houseplants Outdoors. If you have a shady outdoor spot, your houseplants can be easily washed and watered.
Bulbs, Etc. You will find fall bulbs, corms, and rhizomes in some nurseries this month. Look for rhizome iris in a large variety of types and colors. Iris are easy to grow and have a long bloom period. After some years they will become so crowded that you can divide them, creating new plants for your garden or friends.
Hot, Hot, Hot. Heat-loving annuals may still be planted, but their blooming season will be shorter and the plants will not be as vigorous. Plant ageratum, marigolds, petunias, portulaca, annual verbena, and zinnia from sets only.
Start cool-weather plants from seed now: calendulas, cone flower, nemesia, scabiosa, snapdragons, stock, sweet alyssum, violas, and yarrow. In mild areas, alyssum will re-seed freely.
Mow and Water Your Lawn. Don't plant seed or turf now, unless you want watering your lawn to be a full-time job. By late September or October it will be easier and less expensive to get grass started.
Orchard Tree Planting. Now is your last chance to plant cold-sensitive fruit trees such as avocado, banana, cherimoya, citrus, guava, kiwi, and sapote. Water and mulch well after planting and continue to water frequently for the first few days, or more, if the weather is very hot and sunny.
Although we may get very hot, dry winds this month, the days are growing shorter and the year is on the wane. Our region is blessed with a second spring in the fall. Many non-native plants bounce back from the heat of the summer and put on a show of growth and bloom. Enjoy this interlude, and be sure to take time to smell our second spring roses.
Dividing Bulbs. Early this month you may divide "Naked Ladies" with the least amount of trauma. Naked Ladies are usually sold as Amaryllis belladonna, but are actually lycoris squamigera. Their more modest nickname is resurrection lily. The large, pink, trumpet-shaped flowers appear on long stems, without any leaves below; hence, the common name naked lady.
Plan to Prune. Consider pruning oleander, lantana, and bougainvillea early this month. Plants will have time to recover before cold weather comes, leaving them poised for a flower-full spring.
Veggie Gardening. Arugula, beets, broccoli and other cole crops, dill, fava beans, lettuce, peas, and spinach may be started now. Most of the leafy greens will do well with less than full sun. Four or five hours of sun each day would be fine for winter lettuce, and may keep it from bolting.
Pea Support. Be sure that your climbing peas have an adequate support in place before you plant. Some peas will climb over 6 feet when flourishing. Remember that wind and rain may be in the forecast before your peas are harvested.
Watch Your Native Plants Take Off. Do not feed natives, but irrigate even established plants as growth becomes more active. Feel free to do a little light pruning to manage fall growth. Make sure mulch is kept away from the stems, trunks, and crowns of the plants.
Clean Up Your Fruit Tree Area. Rotting fruit is a haven for pests and should be disposed of in the compost pile, where it can be covered with a layer of drier plant matter or soil. Mulch the trees deeply, but keep the mulch away from the trunks of the trees. Remember that a drought stressed tree is more vulnerable to pests. Keep an eye on the moisture level in the soil, especially in times of high winds and heat.
Plant Cool-season Lawns This Month. Whether you plant turf or seed, be prepared to provide plenty of water while the grass becomes established. Established lawns will need less water as the days grow shorter throughout the fall; adjust your sprinklers accordingly.
Warm-season Lawns Are Going Dormant. You may overseed with an annual coo-season grass to maintain a bright, green color all winter.
This month, the change from summer to winter garden is complete. Rain is possible this month, and that possibility enhances the feeling of change in the air. Enjoy the warm temperatures while they last and use our shrinking daylight hours to add a new plant or two in the garden.
Cutting Back. Trim back geraniums, both zonal and ivy types, by about half. This pruning will mean better shape and more blooms. You can root the cuttings to produce more plants. Oleander should also be pruned now, before buds form for next summer's flowers.
Fall Color. Classic, instant fall color is available now in the form of chrysanthemums. Make sure your plants get a sunny location. In a cooler location, cooler colors can be had now if you plant cyclamen.
Winter Color. Winter color to plant now includes African daisy, calendula, candytuft, foxglove, Iceland poppy, larkspur, lobelia, pansy, petunia, phlox, snapdragon, stock, sweet alyssum, sweet pea, primrose, and viola. Be prepared to water heavily if the weather turns very warm.
Do Not Prune Roses Now. The plants should still be actively growing, so continue to mulch, feed, and water. Clean the beds of any debris to help keep plants as healthy as possible.
Disbud Camellias to Ensure Large Flowers. These winter bloomers produce more buds than they can open. Pick off the extra buds, leaving one or two. Continue to water.
Plant Bulbs From Warm Climates Now: homeria, ixia, ornithogalum, sparaxis, tritonia, and watsonia. Narcissus and daffodils may also be planted now. Other bulbs from cold winter climates, such as tulips, crocus, and hyacinths, require special care if the are to bloom here. Most need 4 - 6 weeks of refrigeration before planting. Ask a knowledgeable person at the nursery where you buy your bulbs.
Veggie Planting. Sow cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, kohlrabi, onions, parsnips, radishes, turnips, and leeks.
Plant Fall Natives. October is the perfect month to introduce these practical and attractive plants to your garden. Look for Island Bush Snapdragon, wild lilac (Ceanothus), Dana Point Buckwheat, toyon, various sages, and Douglas Iris. Any of these plants would be happy in full sun, and when established, need little or no summer water.
Lawn Care. The water needs of established lawns decrease greatly this month. Although the days are still warm, there are fewer hours of warmth and light. Adjust your automatic sprinkler accordingly.
While temperate climate gardeners are holing up with seed catalogs, we find that there is plenty to do in the garden. Cool days and nights will be with us by the end of this month, and this change many watering and feeding chores.
Azaleas and Camellias. Early blooming azaleas and camellias are available in the nursery now. This is a good time to transplant these evergreen shrubs. Consider adding a few to your landscape to extend the bloom season. Remember that they require shade and considerable irrigation.
Super Strawberries. Strawberries are an important commercial crop, but for the home gardener they can also be an attractive edging plant. Commercial growers have found that strawberries do best if planted in the first half of this month. If you are near the coast, Sequoia and Tioga are the classic standards.
Beautiful Bulbs. All bulbs, except crocus, tulips, and hyacinth (which must be chilled) can go in the ground now. Nurseries should have their best selections of anemone, freesia, amaryllis, homeria, lilies, oxalis, ranunculus, sparaxis, tritonia, watsonia, and calla lily.
Dig Up Tuberous Begonias. If stored in a cool dry place for the winter, they will be ready to be planted in the spring. Tuberous begonias left in the ground often rot from winter rains. Wait to lift dahlias until the foliage is yellow.
A Wild Idea. Sow wildflower, African daisy, delphinium, and hollyhock. Remember that wildflowers need a little help if you want an extravagant display. Prepare a bed by clearing weeds, wetting the soil, and raking the top few inches of soil to break up clods of soil. Sprinkle a thin layer of soil on top of the seeds and water until the rains come.
Veggie Delights. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens may be planted from sets. If you want to direct seed, try carrots, beet, endive, any of the leafy greens, parsley, pea, radish, leeks, or onions. Garlic does well if planted now.
Divide Natives. This is a good time to divide natives such as penstemon, Pacific coast iris, and goldenrod. Add mulch around these plants in preparation for winter rains.
Tree Protection. Newly planted trees should be staked to protect them from winter winds. Remember that you want the tree to stand on its own; make the stakes as short as possible and fasten the tree to the stake loosely.
Lawn Care. Warm season grasses, such as Bermuda and St. Augustine, have gone dormant for the winter. You can stop feeding them and greatly reduce or eliminate irrigation. If you over seeded your warm season lawn, make sure you continue to water and feed. If you did not over seed last month, there is still time now.
Happy Herbs. Perennial herbs, such as chives, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme, may be planted now. They may not look their best until spring, but fall planting allows the herbs to get established with the help of the winter rains. If you plant mint, consider putting it in a pot, as it is very invasive.
Happy holidays to you and your garden. Have fun shopping in the nursery, buying your poinsettias early, and seeing all the new gadgets and accessories that are designed to tempt you. It's nice to know at the end of your trip that gardeners really need very little: a good pair of gloves, a strong shovel and fork, and a cart or wheelbarrow. Almost everything else is provided for us when we step outside.
Water Sparingly. Even if there is little winter rain, the days are short as winter arrives and your garden's water needs are greatly reduced. Likewise, little feeding is necessary in December.
Compost Tip. When rain arrives, compost piles become active. Clean up the garden to prepare for spring planting and add the green waste to your compost pile. To balance the green waste, look for straw, hay, or other dry matter. Most feed stores are happy to let you rake up the straw and hay that is loose on the ground.
Stop Picking and Deadheading Roses. It is time to encourage roses to harden off for our winter, such as it is. It is too early to prune roses, but if you have some extra time, you might plan for a new rose or two.
Cut Back Grasses. Dormant ornamental grasses may be cut back all the way to the ground now. New growth will appear quickly.
Wisteria Pruning. If you didn't prune wisteria during the summer, it can be done now. Cut off thin, young pieces that grew a lot this year, or if the stems are in the right location, retain them. If your wisteria is established but does not bloom, root prune the plant. Cut into the ground around the plant with a sharp spade. This treatment usually reinvigorates the plant and results in blooming in the next year or two.
Fill Bald Spots with Flowers. Calendula, candytuft, cyclamen, dianthus, pansy, Iceland poppy, linaria, primrose, pansy, ornamental cabbage, snapdragon, sweet William, viola, and wallflower may by used to fill in empty spots in the border. Buy budded or blooming plants in four inch pots.
Bulb Tip. Plant tulip, hyacinth, and crocus bulbs that have been chilled for four to six weeks. The best time to plant these bulbs is during the period between Christmas and New Year's Day.
Continue to Plant Vegetables. Set out cool season greens such as cabbage, celery, lettuce, and Swiss chard. Look for perennial vegetables that are available bare root: artichokes, asparagus, and rhubarb. Plant carrots, kale and other greens such as arugula, and peas from seed.
Bring on the Rain. Winter rains bring natives back to life. If Mother Nature is stingy with the rain, begin irrigating your established natives when you water other landscaping plants. Newly planted natives need to be carefully watered if they start to dry out.
Pruning Timing. It is too early to prune deciduous trees in most areas. Wait until the tree loses its leaves. This could be as late as February.