There is a lot to do in your landscape this month. It’s time to get out there to plan ahead for spring and prepare for winter storms. Soil temperatures are still warm and the digging is easy. Get out there and plant, plant, plant!
Color: Pansies planted now will provide beautiful color through the winter months. Columbine, Cyclamen, Poppies, Primrose, Ranunculus, Snapdragon, Stock and Viola will all add a nice splash of color to your garden.
Fruits & Vegetables: Plant containerized fruit trees and bushes now. Don’t plant bare root plants until next month. Fruit trees should be sprayed for pests in 6 week intervals when the trees are in their dormant stages. An easy way to remember the schedule is to spray around the following holidays; Thanksgiving (when the last leaf has fallen), New Years Day (the height of dormancy) and Valentine’s Day (when the buds begin to swell). Remember to follow the manufacturer’s directions for application carefully. Prune old canes of berries (except raspberries) back to the ground leaving the new canes to produce fruit next year. Plant vegetables like artichokes, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, garlic, lettuce, onion, peas, radishes, spinach and turnips. Plant strawberries.
Roses & Flowers: Stop fertilizing roses this month and prune lightly. Save the hard pruning for January. Most varieties of Hydrangeas bloom on year-old stems. Don’t be tempted. Pruning now will reduce the number of flowers you have next year. To try to get blue or purple blooms on plants with normally pink flowers, apply Aluminum Sulfate now. Mulch around Camellias, Azaleas and other Rhododendrons with a high acid mulch. Removing smaller buds on Camellias will result in larger flowers later on.
Also: Cut back the ornamental grasses when they begin to show signs of new growth.
November is the time to plant natives. Even though they’re drought tolerant, they need to be watered (see water schedules for your local water agency) until they’re established.
If you haven’t done so yet, plant your bulbs. Now is the time also to divide Agapanthus, Iris, Moraea and Daylilies and transplant evergreen shrubs. (Though not tender tropicals.)
Prepare for winter rains. Trim or thin trees with heavy top branches so the wind moves through them easily. If you’re going to trim them yourself, research proper pruning methods to avoid mistakes that may cause problems later on. Double check stakes on young trees.
Not all of your work is outside. Reposition houseplants so that they benefit from the winter sunlight. Keep them away from drafts and the heat from fireplaces or heating vents.
The heat wave we had in September is cooling off. Now – let’s focus on October. October is prime planting month. It’s a good time to plant trees, shrubs, color, groundcover, vegetables roses and of course fruit trees. Get out there and start making the changes you’ve considered this past year. The results of much of the planting and pruning you do now will be evident later on. The soil temperature is still warm which will encourage root growth. Planting now will allow you to take advantage of the winter rains and you’ll see the benefits when the days lengthen in the spring.
Color: Remove the annual color you planted last spring and get ready to replant. If you look at a plant and wonder ‘will it recover?’ the answer is ‘no’. Discard it and replace it with winter color such as Pansy, Kale, Primula, Schizanthus and Viola. Each year there seem to be more exciting cultivars available along with the old favorites. Mix and match to add some fun to your fall color.
Fruits & Vegetables: Keep fruit and vegetables picked to avoid rot spreading to the rest of the crop. Remove vegetable plants that are past their bearing season. Keep the area under the fruit trees clean to discourage disease. Now is the time to plant strawberries for harvest in the spring. Also plant, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes, peas and lettuce.
Lawn: Consider removal of your lawn, considering the drought. However – if you keep your lawn, continue to mow weekly and fertilize monthly. Treat dead patches in your lawn with the appropriate fungicide or insecticide to control the problem. Then reseed to have a strong lawn in the spring. Now is also a good time to aerate your lawn.
Roses & Flowers: Feed and water roses deeply to promote a strong fall blooming season. Dead-head all varieties to prolong the flowering period. Plant wildflower seed.
Consider adding some ornamental grasses to your landscape. The movement and texture they provide is a great compliment to leafy plants and they’re virtually maintenance free and very water efficient.
If you haven’t done so yet, plant your bulbs. For bulbs that need a longer period of cold to bloom effectively (tulips & hyacinth), place them in a paper bag in the refrigerator away from fruit. Now is the time also to divide Agapanthus, Iris, Moraea and Daylilies.
Prepare for Santa Ana conditions. Trim trees with heavy top branches. Water deeply and thoroughly. Double check stakes on young trees. During the winds, water lightly and frequently to help keep the moisture in your landscape.
In January, your landscape is at its most dormant stage and there’s very little to do. Aside from pruning and transplanting there’s not a lot going on. With high moisture levels in the ground, be careful not to disturb the soil too much. Overworking can result in compaction that may harm the soil structure. Do go to your local nursery or garden center. Azaleas, Camellias are blooming along with New Zealand Tea Trees (Leptospermum scoparium) and other plants. Putting these in your garden will ensure that you have flowers in your garden when most flowering plants are in their dormant stage.
Color: Fill in bare spots with cool weather annuals. Pansies, Snapdragons, Iceland poppies and Kale are great additions to the garden along with Cyclamen, Primula and Begonias. Keep leaf trash cleaned from the base of the plants. Plant summer blooming bulbs; canna, dahlia, lilies, tuberose and tuberous begonias.
Fruits & Vegetables: Plant bare-root fruit trees, grapes, berries and strawberries now. Soak roots in water overnight before planting. Continue to spray dormant fruit trees for pests, include trunk and soil around the base of the tree. Prune established fruit trees to maintain a uniform shape. Many cool weather vegetables are available. Sow beet, carrot and radish seeds.
Lawn: Mow cool weather lawns weekly. Appling a pre-emergent weed killer now will save you time and money later in the year. Give your lawnmower a tune up. Change the oil and have the blade to your lawnmower sharpened or do it yourself.
Roses & Flowers: Clean leaf litter from around the base of plants to discourage snails & slugs. Bait as necessary. Prune roses before new growth begins. Water roses thoroughly before pruning. Other flowering shrubs should be pruned after the first bloom cycle.
Irrigation: Do a test run on your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. Watch your system carefully. If it rains, turn the system off and save the water.
Also: Natives can also be pruned lightly now in order to maintain a uniform shape. If rainfall isn’t heavy, water deeply. The moisture they store now will help them through the hot summer months.
Bulbs with higher cold requirements need to be planted in cold soil. If the weather is cool, between Christmas and New Years, plant then. Otherwise wait until the soil temperature drops being sure to plant before January 10th.
Protect tender plants from frost by covering them with a non-plastic material when frost threatens. Keeping plantings well hydrated will help frost survival also. A turgid plant will recover from frost better than a dry plant. Should a frost damage your garden, don’t be tempted to prune off the damaged parts. They’ll help protect the plant from further damage should another frost occur. Trim these parts off later in the year when all risk of frost has past.
Plant and transplant Azaleas and Camellias. Be sure to use a high acid planting mix to promote growth.
Cool temperature weather is the perfect time to prune evergreens
By Donnie Dabbs, General Mgr.
Fertilizing typical and drought-tolerant trees in the landscape requires a knack for applying in the right season, proper administration and for using the best product for the tree. Fertilizer is often misunderstood and misused. Fertilizer is not really direct food for trees, but instead, a boost to your trees providing the ingredients needed for photosynthesis and growth. Fertilizer should not only be used when minerals are lacking or absent in the soil but also to maintain a good chemical balance within the soil all year long. Your top ten, typical choice of standard trees for most landscapes range from King and Queen palms to Agonis, Magnolia and Lagerstromia varieties. Drought-tolerant trees can be fertilized much in the same way. These trees should be fertilized on a regular schedule, depending on the geography and status of the tree. Trees in areas that receive a lot of rain usually have a lot of natural nutrients in the soil and only require about one to two times a year of fertilizer application. However, in more arid areas, like the Southwest, you should fertilize up to three times a year to produce more nutrients in the soil and to keep the plant healthy in each season. The best times for fertilizing is in early spring, mid-year and in the fall. The early spring is a good time because tree roots are coming out of the dormant period and require a boost to be healthy as they are starting to grow. Mid-year is also important because trees are experiencing more heat, absorbing water faster because of the heat and therefore going through nutrients quicker. To put in fertilizer during this time gives the tree a boost and replenishes those nutrients lost. During the Fall, tree roots have cooled a bit but there isn’t as much rainfall as during winter months. Avoid fertilizing trees and shrubs stressed by drought during the summer months. If water is unavailable, do not fertilize at all because plants will be unable to absorb the nutrients.
“Typical mistakes most commonly made during fertilizing is over fertilizing,” said Don Dabbs of Briggs Tree Company (a wholesale, grower-direct nursery in Southern California), “Using the wrong chemical balance for the tree is also a mistake commonly made.”
Fertilizers are divided between the chemicals nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Nitrogen is for greening the tree, adding more foliage and nurturing the leaves. Potassium is applied to prevent diseases and helps with producing more, healthier flowering. Phosphorus boosts the root system and also helps with flowering. A Triple 15 fertilizer has 15 parts nitrogen, 15 parts potassium and 15 parts phosphorus. This combination of chemicals are perfect for trees, as you don’t want to use too much of one of these chemicals. For instance, if you use too much nitrogen, the tree will burn. The other mistake is to over fertilize. Use the amount that is specified on the bag and don’t apply more or less than this specification. Avoid adding too much fertilizer which can harm the tree and the environment. Excessive fertilizer produces rank, weak growth that breaks easily and is susceptible to injury from cold, drought and pests. Also, fertilizer not absorbed by the plant roots may contaminate groundwater and surface water. Again- too much chemical is not good for any one tree. There are different forms of fertilizer that contain a balance of the correct chemicals. One form is fertilizer in granular form. When planting a new tree, put this fertilizer in the ground just under the root ball. For trees already planted or established, spread fertilizer on top of the plant and water generously so the fertilizer seeps into the soil. Since most of a tree’s roots can be found in the top foot of soil, broadcast the fertilizer evenly with a rotary or drop-type spreader over the root zone area to fertilize the tree. For new trees, try using new fertilizer tabs that slowly release fertilizer and penetrate into the tree over a period of time. These tabs should be used in the ground planted near the root ball and never used on top of the soil as this will waste fertilizer. Systemic liquid, spray-on fertilizers seeps into the tree leaves, limbs and bark and is absorbed into the root system. Just remember- the best practice is to use a balanced amount of chemicals.
When fertilizing trees, keep these two points in mind: (1) Fertilizer is beneficial when it is needed; but (2) Use it in the right amount, at the right time and in the right place.
For over thirty five years, Briggs Tree Company has operated as a wholesale nursery, having expanded to over 200 acres in production. Founded by Donald A. Briggs, Jr. in the early 1970’s, Briggs is still family owned and operated supplying:
- 4-inch annual and perennial color
- water-efficient plants
- ..and a premier line of trees in various sizes
Briggs prides themselves in employing knowledgeable and experienced staff who will answer any questions regarding plant material. Briggs Tree Company, Inc. Corporate Headquarters is located at 1111 Poinsettia Avenue, Vista, CA 92081 Please call 760-727-2727, or visit us online at www.briggstree.com for more information.
By Donnie Dabbs, General Mgr.
Water is always a crucial issue. We never have enough. As we approach the cooler months, it’s important to take a few steps to help manage the water that your landscape receives.
Many time clocks are still set to the times and cycles that were dictated when the system was installed. Once your landscape is established, usually within a few months, the times can be cut back. They should be adjusted throughout the year as the seasons change. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your time clock. Play around with it so you can learn to adjust it quickly if needed. If you don’t have the instructions, many manufacturers have them available on line or contact your local garden center.
1) Check that all of your emitters are operating efficiently and are distributing water in the area designed.
2) Adjust the number of days that the system activates. Depending on your specific location, you may be able to reduce your watering schedule by one or two days.
3) Adjust the time the system is on. Since days are shorter and cooler, your landscape doesn’t need the same amount of water to maintain it’s healthy condition. Trying cutting the time per cycle by 1/3 to see how your garden reacts.
Remember that if a warm spell occurs, you may need to supplemental water. Additionally if it rains, make sure that you turn your sprinklers off. Mulching hillsides and planting beds will help retain moisture in your landscape along with helping to control weeds and curtail erosion.