Believe it or not, warm weather is not far away and plants will soon be putting on their spring growth.  Valentine’s Day marks the time to start getting the garden ready for the next growing season.  

One of the most important things to do now is to trim evergreens and perennials that have grown too large or have frozen back.  Plants trimmed now will begin to put out new growth in early March, which is usually past the last damaging frost.  Firebush, lantana, thryalis, plumbago, shrimp, Phillippine violets and variegated ginger are popular perennials in many gardens that should be cut back to about 6 inches tall.  Large evergreen shrubs can be trimmed to desired size and shape.

Nandinas are a different matter.  Because of their growth pattern, cut back about one fourth of the tallest canes to 2 inches tall.  This will cause new growth at ground level which will fill bare spots as nandina, not tended, can have foliage concentrated in the top half of the bush as they age.  

Bush roses should also be trimmed by about half to keep them compact and to promote more flowers on new growth.  Climbing roses are an exception.  They flower on old wood and should not be trimmed, if needed, until after their spring blooming.  This also applies to mountain laurels.  

Nurseries will soon have plants on sale.  Take advantage of the sales but do not plant most annuals until after the first week of March.  Wait until around the first of April to plant periwinkles, impatients and caladium bulbs to prevent them from rotting before the soil warms.

Mulch flower beds as needed.  If you are just starting a mulching program, mulch flower beds to a depth of 4 to 5 inches.  Mulch helps keep soil moist, protects plant roots from summer heat, and reduces the need to water often as temperatures rise.  Keep mulch a couple of inches away from the base of plants to prevent stem rot.

You may want to add new plants to your garden or replace aging ones that no longer look good.  Select plants that need little care once established and that require less water.  (There is a FREE list of adaptive perennials outside the KWA office just to the right of the door.)  Look to locally owned nurseries for these.  Good sources include Fanick’s on Holmgreen Road, Rainbow Gardens on Thousand Oaks, and Shades of Green on Sunset Road.  

 

From The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain: A Book of Quotations: Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.  

Garden Note: Tickle the earth with a hoe, and she will laugh with a harvest.