Monthly garden reports brought to you by Coronado Floral Association
November in the Garden – In most of the country, gardeners are winding down their time in the yard as the weather cools down. In Southern California, we’re just getting started!
If you have a lawn, this is a good time to overseed your Bermuda lawns with winter rye grass. Mow down your lawn very low and spread seed. Keep moist until seeds start to germinate.
Rake out old mulch and dead leaves around bushes and shrubs so as not to encourage disease and pests in the coming months. Mulch the plants with manure and compost, remembering to keep away from the trunks of your plants so they can breathe.
November is still a great month to get plants in the ground for a beautiful spring flowering. If you have not planted your spring bulbs, it is time to get them in the ground, along with wildflower and nasturtiums seeds. Wildflowers need full sun but don’t let their planting bed dry out or you will lose them. Nasturtiums are fast growers and can tolerate sun or part-shade. They re-seed prolifically and are spectacular on slopes, covering the ground in masses!
This is also the ideal time of the year to plant native and drought-tolerant shrubs in your yard. Also, think drought-tolerant ground covers such as gazania, African daisies, plumbago, lantana or ivy. The cooler temperatures allow the plants to get established before subjecting them to the heat of summer. When you plant, water thoroughly after planting to make sure there are no air pockets in the dirt.
This is not a good time to re-pot succulents; better to wait until spring or summer, but if you absolutely have to, then add perlite or other good drainage material to the soil to make sure the new plantings dry out so they don’t rot.
Take a look at your trees and get some trimming done if needed. When the ground is really wet and the wind is blowing hard, trees of all sizes can be uprooted so it is important to open them up so the air can blow through them in windy conditions. Find a qualified tree trimmer to do this job. Don’t forget to stake your small trees, but not too tightly, so they can bend a little with the wind and develop strong trunks.
Prune roses lightly to remove the long, bloomed-out canes, but save hard pruning until January, when plants are fully dormant. Severe pruning now will encourage new growth that will freeze with the cold, wasting good plant energy.
Resist the temptation to prune your hydrangeas now. They aren’t looking so great but they bloom on one year old stems, so pruning would disrupt the blooming process.
Chrysanthemums: After they finish flowering, cut back chrysanthemums leaving 6-inch stems. They will begin to grow again next March. If you’ve had good luck with your chrysanthemums in the ground, then you can lift old clumps and divide them.
As the days grow shorter and cooler, it is important to water in the morning so the plants have all day to dry off and standing water can percolate down.
We can cut back on watering our plants, especially if it rains, but the occasional Santa Ana weather can do a lot of damage if new plants and seeds dry out. We don’t have to be quite so hyper-vigilant like last month but do pay attention if we have hot weather.
Succulents do best in the cold months if they are kept on the dry side, but they still need occasional watering when they look shriveled and stressed. Cacti and succulents in pots need watering more frequently but don’t over-do because wet and cold conditions can quickly kill these plants. Try to water in the morning on warmer days so moisture has evaporated off the plant by nightfall. Waterlogged succulents can die if the weather gets cold enough to freeze, expanding and damaging the fleshy cell structure of the plants. If we are expecting rain, really cold weather or possible frost, try to move your succulents to protected areas so they don’t get waterlogged or frost-bitten. One hail storm can do a lot of damage to succulent leaves, marring your plant’s skin. That’s a bummer, especially come flower show time if you planning to enter your plants.
When it starts raining, please turn off your sprinklers!
As we go into our cold months, most plants are going into a resting time. A general rule of thumb regarding fertilizing pl now is be mindful of fertilizers containing too much nitrogen which encourages new, tender growth that will damage easily in the colder weather.
Do not fertilize California natives because it encourages them to grow too fast, making them unstable. Remember, they are native plants and did just fine without fertilizer before we came along!
If you have pink hydrangeas and want to try to color them blue or lavender, apply aluminum sulfate now. This won’t work on white hydrangeas, only the pink ones.
Dahlias - Now through December, withhold water and fertilizer to let the plants die back and go dormant. Once the plant has dried to brown about 12 inches above ground, cut the stalk. You can leave dahlia tubers in the ground to harden off as long as there is good drainage. If not, get the tubers out of the ground before the rains set in. If you do lift the tubers, rinse off the dirt, let dry and store in a cool, dry place, storing in slightly damp peat moss in newspaper lined boxes. Vermiculite can be used in place of peat moss, also moistened. A good rule of thumb is 1 to 2 cups of water per 5-gallon bucket of vermiculite. If you want to divide your tubers, treat the cut area with soil sulphur, and store as above. Don’t forget to tag your tubers so you know what’s what when planting time comes around!
The rains are coming so now is the time to prepare your yard and your plants. Clean out your rain gutters and downspouts so heavy rains don’t overflow and flood. Empty out any containers that fill up with the rains (use the water in your garden!) and turn them over or put lids on so you don’t create breeding grounds for mosquitos.