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See Past Gardening Tips Here


2014 Gardening Tips
August Watch out for Wasps while Gardening
July It’s not too Late to Plant Sunflowers
plus Gardening Tips
June Irrigation - Do it Yourself or Hire Out
plus Gardening Tips

Know your Foe
plus Gardening Tips

April Have you Checked your Fencing?
plus What to Plant
March Weeding takes Top Priority this Month
plus What to Plant
February Buy Summer Flowering Blubs Mow
plus What to Plant
January Rose Pruning, Sweet Peas and More
plus What to Plant

2014 Gardening Tips

AUGUST 2014 (recycled from August 2011)


  • Watch out for wasps while gardening. Although they are considered a beneficial insect because they eat other insects, those little buggers can sting right through some garden gloves! Wasp stingers have no barb like honey bee stingers so wasps can keep stinging. Use ice right away on the sting.
  • If you want more flowers, continue to pinch back the more leggy growth of fuchsias to keep bushy.
  • If you have kept up on weeding, August in Sonoma County is usually time to kick back and enjoy your flower garden and harvest your veggies; however, if you just can’t help yourself and you have to plant more flowers you may want to provide some shade for a couple days after planting while the young plants get going. You can take two empty nursery flats and make a tent over the top of the young plants.
  • Fertilize most modern roses with an all purpose fertilizer. Remember; when it’s hot, roses may need up to 10 gallons of water a week in order to thrive.
  • Continue to deadhead marigolds, cosmos and other flowering annual plants to keep them blooming.
  • Towards the middle of the month it’s already time to start preparing for planting your fall veggie garden plants.
  • If your parsley plants have gone to seed and you have room to let the flowers remain they will attract beneficial insects to your veggie garden.
  • Most flowering plants in containers will appreciate fertilizer (at half strength) twice a month. Be sure the rootzone is moist before applying liquid fertilizer; water well the night before and fertilize in the morning. Remember, you are ‘mother nature’ for your container plants; they get nutrients from what you provide them.
  • It may be a little late now but take a walk around your garden to find plants, such as Dahlia, that may need staking. Next spring when you plant your Dahlia tubers you can place stakes when you plant so you do not push a stake through the tuber later in the season.
  • Do you still have standing water in your yard or garden? Mosquitoes breed wherever they find standing water. Mosquito bites can transmit diseases to horses, cats, dogs and people. Please take a minute to go dump anything in your yard that is holding water.
  • Trees and shrubs will appreciate a nice long soak this month. Turn the hose on a trickle and set a timer in the house to help you remember the water is running. Depending upon the size of the plant you may need to leave the hose on for a few hours.
  • Do you know that Mary has a personal shopper service? Mary can go with you to the nurseries or pick plants up for you. Schedule an appointment today.
  • If your Iris did not bloom as well this year as years past you may need to divide the tubers to encourage better flowering next year. August is a good month to do this garden task.

JULY 2014 (recycled from July 2011)


  • It’s not too late to plant some sunflower seeds. If you would like a short (under 3 feet) variety try ‘Teddy Bear.’
  • Reminder: Always turn off the water faucet when finished watering your plants. Hoses can blow (especially in hot weather) and you’ll come home to a flood of water!
  • The summer annual Tropaeolum majus (Nasturtium) will give you more blooms if you hold back a little on the water. You will know if you are watering too much when the leaves are huge and flowers are few. Nasturtium flowers and the leaves are edible (as long as you haven’t sprayed them with any pesticide).
  • Speaking of ‘edible flowers’, many flowers are edible but if you are not certain make sure to research if a flower is edible before trying it. If you have too many squash blossoms try lightly frying them in butter; add nasturtium flowers and leaves to your salad along with some pansies and petals of pineapple guava; use scented geranium leaves to scent sugar (put a few leaves in a glass jar along with some sugar, secure the lid and leave lid on for a few weeks) the scented sugar tastes great in tea!
  • Keep your new plants happy while waiting to be planted.
  • Have you ever grown Cleome? This is an amazing looking plant and quite the conversation piece not only for the flowers but the ‘fragrant’ foliage. The leaves smell like….well you’ll see.
  • How do you know you are watering your plants ‘deeply?’ A few hours (or the next morning) after you or your irrigation system water your plants, gently dig a small hole down 3 or 4 inches into the soil and see how moist it is in the rootzone. Ideally with most plants they will appreciate the soil in the rootzone being moist (like a rung out sponge) but not soggy.
  • On hot days, plants in containers may need water twice a day (depending upon how small the container is) but when you water your container plants slowly you may not need to water so often. When watering, come back around for a second round of slow watering before you put the hose away. Before a heat wave, water container plants at night to give your plants all night to hydrate.
  • Are you wearing your sunscreen?
  • Hydrated muscles have less of a chance of becoming injured; so, drink plenty of water while working in the garden.
  • For more flowers, deadhead summer annuals such as Cosmos, Zinnia, Coreopsis, Gaillardia pulchella, and Marigolds.
  • When Lobelia erinus plants start to look shabby, shear entire plant to about 2 inches to encourage nice bushy new growth.
  • Need help deciding what to do with your plants this summer? Contact Mary
  • You may want to thin the fruit on your apple, pear and any other heavily fruited trees. Thinning out some of the fruits will give more room for the fruit you leave to become a nice size. Also, thinned branches are less liable to break from the weight of too much fruit.
  • Watering in the morning is ideal but sometimes (especially during a heat wave) watering at night will give your plants even longer to soak up the moisture. If possible keep the watering wand low to avoid getting water on all the foliage; this will help to keep down the possibility of fungal diseases infecting your plants.
  • Some gardeners use ‘broad spectrum’ pesticides without realizing that ‘broad spectrum’ kills all insects (including the beneficials). If you have to use a pesticide be sure you know what pest you are trying to kill. Sometimes all you may need to keep a pest population (such as whitefly) down to a manageable level are some yellow sticky traps.
  • Are the spent flowers still on your Rhododendron? It’s not too late to gently snap them off just be careful not to snap off the new growth too.
  • Bermuda grass blooms are one of the highest pollen producing plants in our area. Weed now!
  • Herbicides tend to degrade more slowly than organic matter. This means that if you put the remains of plants killed by herbicides into the compost stream there is a good chance that there will be enough herbicide left in the finished compost to kill young plants and keep seeds from germinating. Please, place herbicide laced plants in the garbage can instead of the compost bin.

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JUNE 2014 (recycled from June 2011)


This article is intended to help build your confidence when working with irrigation professionals or when installing drip irrigation yourself.

I have tried to think of a diplomatic way to introduce this topic but there is just no way to politely say, “Just because you hire a ‘professional’ does not mean they will install your drip irrigation emitters in a way that is best for your plants or for you.” There are ‘industry standard’ to guide installers but these standards are not law. I have noticed that each installer has their own style when it comes to drip irrigation installations; unfortunately some ‘styles’ do not follow industry standards and actually create future problems. Just to be clear, I’m not saying, “Do not hire a professional.” What I am saying is, it’s ok to ask questions and to ask for examples and explanations of how they will install your emitters. Also, be home when they install (at least during the beginning so you can be assured of best practices).

Three of the most unfortunate things that I see with drip irrigation installations are: the emitters are installed directly in the mainline instead of using 1/4" driplines, the emitters are installed on the top of the mainline making them easy targets to step on and break off, and emitters are placed too close to the stems and trunks of plants.
Here are some things to keep in mind, whether you install irrigation lines yourself or you hire someone to install a system for you:

Pros and Cons of installing emitters directly on top of the mainline:

  • Costs less because fewer parts are used and less time is taken to install the project.


  • You will step on the emitters and break them off (creating something that you then will need to repair).
  • When you mulch on top of the irrigation system the emitter hole is more open to getting particles inside the system.
  • With emitters directly on top of the mainline there is no way to direct the water for a larger rootzone as the plant matures in size.
  • In some cases, emitters take a lot of water pressure and do have a chance of blowing off the mainline.

Pros and Cons of installing emitters using 1/4" dripline:

  • Able to direct the water to correct part of rootzone when installing the plant and as it matures.
  • Hard to break the emitter if you step on it while gardening.
  • Can easily add to emitters or lengthen the emitter line without dealing with the mainline.
  • Easy to plug the end of the 1/4" line when you no longer need that emitter instead of pulling out the emitter that was directly in the mainline in order to plug it (this method usually causes a leak in the mainline).


  • Initially costs more because more parts are used and more time to install.

When deciding what to use to keep the emitters in place, remember that there are small metal hooks available that are much easier to push into any type of soil then the plastic type. Plus, the plastic 1/4" line holders easily break when stepped on after they have been in the soil a while.
There is so much more to know but here I have kept the topic to 1/4" lines with emitters on the ends; inline emitters have another set of ‘things to know’.

June 2014

  • For months of color in the garden and before hot weather arrives, plant summer annuals such as zinnias, cosmos, and morning glories (not the perennial).
  • Rhododendrons: Just after bloom, when the flowers of Rhododendrons have faded, carefully remove spent flowers. It may help to hold the stem in one hand and snap off the faded flower with the other hand; be careful not to snap off the new growth that is just under the old flower stem. Removing the spent flowers will encourage the plant to send energy into forming flowers for next year and not on seed production.
  • Removing spent flower heads from Lilac shrubs will encourage more bloom next year. Cut off the spent flower heads just below the flower stem, leaving the plump buds (just below the flower) for next year.
  • Only have time for one gardening task? Remove weeds before they go to seed! If you keep at it and keep ahead of the seeds you will see a tremendous reduction in the weed population in your garden. I know, I know but your family will leave you alone when you’re weeding (it’s like doing the dishes). So, ‘need time for yourself’- go out and weed.
  • Time for two tasks? Remove weeds and apply at least a three inch layer of mulch right away to cut off the sunlight to the dormant weed seeds. Remember, if you apply less than the three inches you may just be fertilizing the weed seeds and then you will think the weeds came in the mulch!
  • Have you ever mulched around your Camellias, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Blueberries and other acid loving plants? Now is a great time to do all the mulching for your garden but use a more acid ph mulch for ‘acid loving’ plants. Mary uses GrabnGrow’s Rhododendron mix for these plants in the Demo Garden.
  • Prune Wisteria’s vigorous growth back to six nodes (growth bumps along stem) from their origin. In winter prune these same points back to two nodes to encourage flowers. If you want your Wisteria to grow longer to cover an arbor leave some of the long, vigorous growth unpruned and guide it along the area you want it to grow.
  • Would you like help pruning? Have Mary prune for you or show you how. Contact Mary.
  • Be mindful when using fertilizers; in general, too much fertilizing encourages weak growth that is like candy for pests like aphids. Think of too much fertilizer as your ‘plants on steroids’. Exceptions to the ‘rule’ are flowering plants in containers-use half strength liquid fertilizer once or twice a month. Roses too appreciate fertilizer throughout the season. Shrubs in containers will appreciate one application of a time release fertilizer, such as Osmocote.

Planting Suggestions for June:

  • Annuals: Salpiglossis, Cleome, Lobelia, Sweet alyssum
  • Seeds: Sunflowers, Morning glories, Nasturtium
  • Vines: Large Flowering Clematis, Clytostoma callistegioides (Violet Trumpet Vine), Bougainvillea (planted as annual vine in most frost areas)
  • Low Growing Shrubs: Santolina, Teucrium chamaedrys-both best when sheared at least once a year
  • Veggies: Beets, Beans, Summer Squash, Tomato

MAY 2014 (recycled from May 2011)


What are all those holes in the middle of the leaves and flowers of my plant? Why are mostly the edges chewed off the leaves? How do I get rid of the bugs that are damaging my flowers? Are all holes in leaves made by ‘bad bugs’?

We’ve all been there at one time or another; either we plant new baby plants or we wait and wait for our plants to bloom and seemingly overnight the plants are either eaten completely or progressively chewed to death!

Before you apply bait or a spray, the most important thing to do is read the directions but equally important is to know what is causing the damage to your plant in the first place. Knowing your foe will help you decide whether just a blast of water every few days will help solve your problem and will lead you to buy the correct product if you need one.

On the one hand, if the leaves have the edges unacceptably chomped it may be a type of caterpillar or grasshopper and spraying insecticidal soap on the leaves will not kill these two, since once the soap dries it is ineffective. Insecticidal soap needs to land on the insect you are trying to kill, such as aphids and mealybugs, in order to begin destroying the cells of their bodies. Insecticidal soap will kill beneficials also, so be mindful to spray only the insects you mean to eliminate. For the caterpillars and grasshoppers there is a product called BT or Bacillus thuringiensis. The BT stays active after you spray the leaves, so when the chewing starts again the insects ingest BT and basically get the flu and they die off within days. Butterflies go through a caterpillar stage so proper identification helps you make sure you are killing off only the pest you mean to kill.

On the other hand, some leaf damage is acceptable in The Gardening Tutor Demo Garden. For instance, when there are perfect cutout circles from the rose leaves made by leafcutter bees; the bees use the leaf parts to make their nests.

Of course, this article could go on and on about pest control.  The point is, to ‘know your foe’ before you start your counter attack. To find the culprit you may need to go out into your garden with a flashlight late at night or really early in the morning (make sure to check under leaves) but it will pay off in the end when you defend your plants by making a well informed decision about how to take care of the problem.

The best book Mary has found for diagnosing plant problems is by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth called: What’s Wrong with my Plant? (And How Do I fix It?). If you want to skip the reading and get some help right away contact Mary at The Gardening Tutor.

May 2014

  • Early blooming Clematis’ such as Clematis armandii and C. montana have finished flowering by now; however, May is the perfect time to find some beautiful large flowered Clematis varieties at your locally owned nursery!! Remember that photos of color can be very deceiving, so choose plants that have at least one bloom to make certain you are getting the color you desire (this is especially important for ‘red’ Clematis-so far there is no true red Clematis).
  • If you were not able to amend your veggie garden soil weeks ago make sure that you use well aged compost now. If you use fresh compost you may get plenty of green growth and little or no veggies.
  • You will find many different warm-season annuals in the nurseries now. When choosing your new plants, pick the ones that have just enough flowers to make certain it’s the color you like and lots of buds that will flower in your garden instead of at the nursery.
  • Usually combining plants that have like water needs is the way to go but what about when you want to plant a more thirsty plant near a more drought tolerant plant?  One idea is to use a container for the thirsty plant but another way is to make a bit of a depression in the soil where you place the thirsty plant. No need to make the depression super obvious (if you mulch over the top of your soil you will never notice) just deep enough to hold more moisture.
  • Ants are nature’s little helpers sometimes. Ants just love to clean up squished snails so you may want to consider where you toss that snail so you do not attract ants to areas like the foundation of your buildings or the trunks of trees and shrubs where they are Not ‘little helpers’.
  • Did you flush your irrigation system yet?
  • Before you prune …when was the last time you sharpened your pruners and loppers?
  • If you choose not to mulch and you cannot see yourself using liquid fertilizer for your containers and more ‘needy’ in ground plants, try using a time release, all purpose fertilizer for your plants. Remember products such as Osmocote only release the fertilizer once the soil has warmed.
  • Mulch, Mulch, Mulch
  • Weed, Weed, Weed

APRIL 2014 (recycled from April 2011)


  • Have you checked your fencing lately? Now is a good time to find damage and make repairs to lattice and fence boards; although, you may have to wait until the soil is not saturated anymore to replace posts.
  • Snails and slugs continue to be very active at this time of year. Recently, I found that snails and slugs were attracted to the leaf debris I had left in the walking path of the Demo Garden early in the day. Later that night, I was able to take a bucket of hot soapy water out to the garden and easily pick up hundreds of offenders, right off the path, in just 30 minutes!! Eeewww! Since I used biodegradable soap I was able to dump it all in the compost bin (if you put this mess in your own compost pile, cover it up because as they decay the snails are going to really smell bad).
  • Weed before seed. If you keep up on pulling weeds before they go to seed, over time you are going to see a big drop in the amount of weeds in your garden. Of course, if your neighbor has a ‘gazillion’ weeds going to seed…..well…. The more plants you plant the less weeds you will have because the canopy of the plants usually shade out weed seeds so the weeds have a hard time germinating.
  • We are coming to an end of our ‘cool season’ annuals season. Now is the time to start thinking of and planting some ‘warm season’ annual plants, such as lobelia, cosmos, morning glories (seeds), marigolds, and Salpiglossis sinuate. Of course, if you need quick color for a party, cool season annuals such as pansies will be a good choice but do not expect pansies to keep blooming for you once the hot weather arrives.
  • If you have one blueberry plant consider adding a different variety of blueberry that blooms at the same time as your plant, so they can cross pollinate. Cross pollinating will help encourage more fruit!
  • After Rhododendrons finish blooming, snap off the spent blooms right away. Removing the spent blossoms will encourage your Rhododendron to create bloom for next year and not spend energy going to seed. Be careful to only break off the spent blossom and not the two new buds at the base of the spent bloom.
  • When you are ready to amend, topdress and/or add soil to your garden contact The Gardening Tutor. Mary can deliver up to four yards of soil product at a time in her 1966 Chevy flatbed dump truck! 707.545.6863
  • Before you mulch, check your irrigation system for leaks and broken lines.

Planting Suggestions for April:

  • Veggies seeds- radish, lettuce, beets, carrot, snap beans
  • Veggie starts-(after danger of frost is past) summer squash, peppers, cilantro and parsley
  • Annuals-lobelia, cosmos, impatiens (after danger of frost is past), marigolds

MARCH 2014 (recycled from March 2011)


  • Weeding takes top priority this month! Make a point to get outside and weed before the weeds go to seed. If time is limited, at least pull the weeds that are growing close to your desired plants; weeds compete (and usually win) for nutrients and water that your plants need.
  • Continue to remove the spent flowers (deadhead) from pansies and Iceland poppies to encourage more flowers.
  • If your roses are still dormant, go ahead and prune but if your roses have put out a lot of new growth only prune out obvious crossing growth and any growth that is in the center (to create good air circulation). Let the other growth continue to grow and produce blooms. After the blooms you can prune down a little farther down the canes.
  • Once new growth on roses is active, fertilize with your choice of rose fertilizer. Mary uses E B Stone’s Rose and Flower food with mycorrhizae (helps create a healthy soil) in the demo garden.
  • Stop! Wait to prune spring flowering shrubs such as lilac, forsythia, and rhododendron until after the flowers have bloomed and faded.
  • Aphids start appearing in spring. Before you get out the spray bottle consider leaving the aphids for a few weeks for beneficial insects to come and help you. If you plan to spray insecticidal soap, first consider using a strong burst of water from your hose to knock the aphids from your plants. Use the water a few times and you may not need to spray.
  • Yellowjacket queens are still in hibernation. Learn more about yellowjackets now to be prepared for the season.
  • If you are planning a summer vegetable garden, work a few inches of compost into the soil once the soil is workable (moist but not soggy). If your compost is not aged allow some time to pass before planting in the amended area.
  • Although it is still too early in the season to plant summer vegetables such as tomatoes and zucchini you can still plant cool weather veggies such as Swiss chard, spinach, and beets.
  • Remember to fertilize container plantings with half strength liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season (once you notice new growth begin). Winter annual plantings can be fertilized during the cool season (which is the time winter annuals are actively growing). If your containers are planted with single hardy shrubs use an all purpose time release fertilizer instead of bi-monthly liquid fertilizer.
  • Dahlias-when planting tall varieties remember to place the stake at planting time in order to avoid pushing the stake into the tuber later in the season
  • Hardenbergia vines are in the nurseries now. Hardenbergia can be frost tender so plan to plant it in a protected spot in the garden that gets plenty of sunlight. The combination of “Protected with plenty of sunlight” may be hard to find in the garden. Plan to cover when temperatures drop close to freezing if you plant in an exposed area.
  • Nepeta-once new growth starts shear off last season’s growth.
  • Bermuda grass pollen is one of the worst allergy producing pollens. While the soil is still moist but not soggy, hand pull Bermuda grass so you can stay ahead of any flowering. Think twice before using a rototiller on Bermuda grass since this simply cuts the roots into little pieces that will all sprout new plants! Some gardeners choose to spray Bermuda grass with herbicide; however, with hand pulling (as in the demo garden) one can keep down the spread of this invasive plant while keeping spraying to a minimum. If you do decide to spray an herbicide place the dead foliage into the garbage can and not the compost bin.

Planting Suggestions for March:

  • Annuals: Pansies, Iceland poppies, Lobelia, Foxgloves
  • Perennials: Columbine, Astilbe, Dianthus, Campanula portenschlagiana
  • Veggies: Beets, Swiss chard, Spinach, Sunchoke (tubers), Parsley
  • Shrubs: Lilac, Ceanothus, Grevillea, Rosemary

(recycled from February 2011)


  • Buy Gladiolus and other summer flowering bulbs now. You may need to wait until your soil is not soggy to plant your summer flowering bulbs but the best selection is starting now. Please, support your locally owned nurseries (otherwise our choices are going to continue to be whittled down).
  • If your soil is moist but not soggy, weed now to save your sanity later!!
  • Now is the time to start flower and veggie seeds indoors for planting out once the danger of frost has passed.
  • Dormant oil sprays can still be applied to deciduous plants as long as the plants have not pushed spring growth yet.
  • Snails, slugs, sowbugs and earwigs seem to want to ruin all our fun in the garden. Remember to bait especially when you just planted something new.
  • Remember when shopping for Rhododendrons and Azaleas this month that they have early, mid and late season varieties. Buy plants when blooming to make certain to find the color for which you are looking. If you really like Rhodies and Azaleas you can extend bloom time in your garden from 3 weeks to 9 or more weeks by purchasing one plant each from early, mid, and late blooming varieties! Consider planting some native Mimulus (the drought tolerant ones) for a similar look to Azalea but with longer bloom time and less water needed.
  • Do you have an olive tree with the canopy in an unfortunate position (say, above your parked car)? When those olives drop it’s pretty messy. Did you know you can spray the tree with a growth regulator to stop the flowering? Spray your own or contact a licensed pest company. Always think twice when installing new plants to avoid conditions like this so you can avoid the need for chemicals later.
  • Finish pruning roses and grapes this month.
  • Check your plants and trees for signs of girdling. When support ties or labels are left on too long, plant growth will suffer from being constricted. When you get your new plant home from the nursery, those supports that are tied so tightly need to be removed completely or at least moved out to about 6 inches from trunk of the plant.
  • Prune blueberries while dormant (before new growth begins). Since blueberries fruit on the tips of one year old and older growth, this time of year just prune out twiggy, crossing, dead, damaged or diseased growth. You are looking for a vase shape with good air circulation inside the center of plant. After harvest, you can prune back fruited wood to new growth.
  • It’s best to plant Rhubarb in the fall but if you have always wanted Rhubarb you can find dormant roots in your locally owned nurseries this month. Rhubarb does like regular water; so, if you are like me, you may want to plant your rhubarb near the hose spigot so you’ll remember to water your plant!
  • Continue to bundle yourself up and go to your locally owned nursery to shop for winter flowering plants such as Hellebores, Correa, Camellias, Pansies etc.
  • Now is a great time clean and sharpen your tools before you need them. Bare-root plants are still in the nurseries.If you have unmulched soil, check your plants to see if soil is splashing up, from rainwater, onto healthy leaves. Soil can have pathogens in it and leaves covered in soil will also cut out sunlight from your leaves. Keep leaves clean by washing soil off with your hose. Plan to mulch in spring.
  • Do you want to plant something new but do not know what will thrive in your area? Take a walkabout through your own neighborhood to see which plants appeal to you. Most people do not mind answering questions about their gardens or you can take Mary along for a consultation.

Planting Suggestions for February:

  • Annuals: Pansies, Alyssum, Iceland Poppies (and other poppies)
  • Perennials: Hellebores and Candytuft
  • Veggies: Chard, Asparagus (roots), Broccoli (plants)
  • I know it’s sunny and you want to buy tomatoes now, don’t you? Tomatoes planted after danger of frost will grow just as big as the ones you plant early (and struggle to protect from frost). I plant my tomato plants in mid May.

JANUARY 2014 (recycled from January 2011)


“Bare-root Season” means that you can save money! Bare-root is just what it sounds like, the deciduous plant (trees, shrubs and some perennials that shed their leaves each year) is not planted in any soil mix; what you buy is a plant with its roots usually snuggled in some form of sawdust so the roots stay moist. The reason you save money is because you are not paying for the soil, container and the employee’s time potting the plant up and maintaining it. You can save up to 70 percent of what you might pay to buy the same plant just months from now.

This is the time of year when nurseries are not only selling many choices of roses bare-root but many fruits as well.  Since bare-root stock take up less room in the nursery than potted plants, you will usually find more of a selection of different varieties of pomegranate, blueberries, apple, pear, persimmon, raspberries, fig, and many more. For instance, instead of just the typical variety of ‘Wonderful’ being sold as a potted pomegranate, in a locally owned nursery you may find up to 10 different varieties of bare-root pomegranate such as ‘Fleishman’, ‘Granada’, ‘Red Silk’, or ‘Sweet’ which has yellow flowers instead of the usual orange flowers of pomegranate. Also sold as bare-root are some flowering shrubs such as Lilac and flowering quince.

Being willing to bundle yourself up and get out there in the weather shopping for unusual bare-root plants will increase the uniqueness of your garden. Go early in the month before the stock is picked over. You want to find plump, moist (but not slimy) roots with healthy well placed limbs. Many local nursery professionals can help you choose your plant if you feel you need a little help. No matter the weather, The Gardening Tutor is always available to bring along as your personal shopper.

Once you have your bare-root plants back home, make sure to either plant right away or keep the roots moist until planting. Some gardeners even soak the roots for a few hours before planting but do not keep the roots in water for days on end. Another way to go is to plant your bare-root in a 5 gallon container in a well draining soil mix. This is the way to go if you would like to encourage faster root growth. If you know that you will keep the 5 gallon container watered properly until next fall you will be rewarded with lots of roots that grew in the warmth of that 5 gallon container. Although it’s not necessary to pot up your bare-root plant for a year, more roots at planting time will give your plant more of a head start then planting when bareroot.

Happy Plantings!

- Mary

January 2014


  • Continue to clean up fallen leaves and debris that are so enticing for snails, slugs, sowbugs and earwigs to hide in. If you have areas where keeping down insect populations does not matter, such as under mature shrubs or trees, you may want to let the leaves remain as mulch.
  • Do clean up fallen leaves from under your roses. Letting the rose leaves sit under you rose encourages fungal diseases like rust and black spot to over winter and reinfect your rose in spring. Think of all those leaves as ‘athlete’s foot fungus’ for your plants.
  • If you have not sprayed your peach trees to protect from peach leaf curl yet you still have time to get in a spray in between rainy weather. Usually two to three sprays are needed. A helpful way to remember when to spray is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s before bud break.
  • January is a good time to start your dormant pruning for your roses. Ideally, pruning your roses will result in a healthier plant with less disease and more blooms! Need some one-on-one tutoring to get your pruning confidence up? Call Mary at 545-6863 or use the contact page to talk to Mary.
  • Some fruit trees such as apples are pruned in winter or summer (depending upon whether you are encouraging growth or suppressing growth) every year but others such as persimmon do not usually need yearly pruning. Persimmons need pruning early in their life to create good form but later you can prune simply to remove dead, diseased, damaged, and crossing limbs. Persimmons usually fruit on 2 year old and older wood.
  • Did you know that you can dry the astringent ‘Hachiya’ persimmon and it turns as sweet as candy? Choose fruit that is still firm (not hard as a rock but not a bit mushy either). Peel with potato peeler (pull peeler towards you for best results) and slice into 1/4" slices. Use an electric dryer for best color and fastest drying. You can dry in your oven but it takes a lot longer and the fruit turns brown (still tastes great though).
  • The Redwood Empire Rare Fruit Growers are hosting their annual Scion Exchange on January 25, 2014. Open to the public at 10:00 a.m. Become a member and you can get in at 9:00!
  • Check the plants close to your house to see if the rain is actually watering the plants. The overhang on building roofs keep many plants from benefitting from rain water and you will need to water them by hand during the winter when your irrigation system is turned off. You may need to dig down a few inches in the soil to get an accurate idea of whether the root zone is getting any water.
  • Continue to protect glazed pottery from frost.
  • Continue to pull weeds when there is a good break in the weather.
  • Don’t feel like doing anything in your garden this time of year? Mary has a few new openings for her gardening services. Let Mary do your gardening tasks for you. Call today 545-6863 or use the contact page to talk to Mary.

Planting Suggested for January:

  • Bare-root roses, fruit trees, and cane fruit
  • Annuals: Pansies, Calendula, Iceland Poppies

The Gardening Tutor
Hands-on, Individualized Gardening Instruction
And Consulting
in Sonoma County
Santa Rosa, California

Hands-On Individualized Gardening Instruction and Consulting in Sonoma County