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See Past Gardening Tips Here

2015 Gardening Tips
February Buy Summer Flowering Bulbs Now
plus What to Plant
January Rose Pruning, Sweet Peas and More
plus What to Plant

2015 Gardening Tips



    The question I hear most often this time of year is, “How do I prune my roses?” Here in the Santa Rosa area there is still time to prune your roses.

    One of the most helpful tasks you can do to keep your roses healthy is to keep the area below and around the roses clean of leaves. Diseases such as rust, powdery mildew and black spot are fungal diseases that spread easily. To remind you of why you would want to keep the area cleaned up, it may be helpful to think of this leaf debris as similar to athlete’s foot fungus. Before you prune, gently strip off all the leaves and thoroughly rake the area. Striping the leaves first will help you to clearly see which stems you are pruning.

    Different types of roses prefer different pruning but here are some general things to keep in mind. Angle your pruning cuts away from the bud so that any water will run away from the bud. Prune a quarter inch above an outward facing bud (or to a bud that is going to grow in the direction you would like). Cut out any spindly growth (growth that is less than the diameter of a pencil). Prune out any growth that will be growing into the middle of the rose so that the rose bush will have good air circulation. Good air circulation will cut down on the possibility of diseases. Also, prune out any dead, diseased, or damaged growth. Where branches cross, decide which branch to keep and prune out the other branch.

    After you prune and clean up the area, apply a 3" layer of good quality compost on top of the soil to help reduce weeds and feed your roses. Keep the compost about 6 inches from the base of the plant.

February 2015

  • For planting suggestions, color photos and more gardening tips, check out our Facebook page.
  • Roses still need pruning? No problem, better to prune now, even though new growth has started, than to not prune at all. Prune out the dead and damaged stems. Where stems cross choose the healthiest one and prune out the other. For a nice shape make cuts just above growth that is facing outward (away from the center of the bush). Contact Mary when you would like to learn how to prune your roses or if you’d like Mary to prune for you. 707.545.6863
  • To avoid damage to new growth avoid spraying your roses while the growth is young. If you still need to spray wait until the new growth has hardened off.
  • When you first see aphids on your rose bushes or other plants you can use a strong spray of water to knock the aphids off. Repeat the water treatment for several days and you will see a big reduction in the population without needing to use a pesticide.
  • Annual weeds are popping up everywhere. Get ahead of them by pulling them now before they go to seed. Remember, “one year of seeds/seven years of weeds.”
  • Sweet pea transplants can still be planted this month for lots of amazing blooms in April and May! Protect the little plants from snails, slugs, sowbugs and earwigs.
  • If you would like to use less spray for plant diseases, consider purchasing roses or fruit trees that are “disease resistant” varieties.
  • To encourage more blooms, continue to remove the spent flowers (with their stems) from cool season annuals, such as Iceland poppies and pansies.
  • Cool season annual plants will appreciate some liquid fertilizer once a month. Mary uses Maxsea all purpose plant food for pansies, poppies, Bellis perennis and other winter annuals. You can also fertilize bulbs as soon as you see the new growth coming up (this is especially helpful to bulbs in containers).
  • Hydrangeas and Buddleja (butterfly bush) can be pruned this month. When you would like to learn more about what to prune and how to prune, contact Mary.
  • If you did not get time to add compost to your veggie garden last fall go ahead and dig some in now (as long as your soil is workable-moist but not soggy) to prepare the soil for your spring veggie planting.
  • Glazed pottery can crack and chip in freezing weather. Remember to protect your glazed containers and art when temperatures drop.
  • Once Camellia blooms turn brown remove them and keep the area under and around the plant clear of fallen blossoms too in order to keep your Camellia from becoming infected with petal blight
  • Check out the archive page for tips from past February Tips.

Planting Suggestions for February

  • Bare root roses
  • Bare root fruit trees
  • Annual plants such as pansies, cyclamen, Iceland poppies and primroses
  • Veggie seeds such as beets, lettuce, and carrot as well as onion sets



    This is a great time of year for cleaning and sharpening your gardening tools!

    The blades of hand pruners and loppers are easily cleaned of rust and residue with 000 steel wool (if your pruners are really dirty-use some WD40 with the steel wool). Sharpen the blades (remember to only sharpen on the beveled side). You can then lightly spray the blades with alcohol and then lightly oil with some 3 in 1 oil or silicon spray (my personal favorite). Help your hands and your plants; clean and sharpen your pruners as often as needed to make good clean cuts using the least effort. At least once a year taking apart your hand pruners to clean all the parts will ensure the longest life for your pruners.

    For shovels, hoes, trowels and other tools use a stiff brush and wash the entire tool with mild soap and water (you can add a little bleach to the water if you like). After the tool is clean, dry it completely with a clean cloth. Sharpen any cutting edges. Lightly oil any wooden handles with boiled linseed oil or a vegetable oil; you may first need to use some sandpaper to smooth rough spots in the wood.

    One of the best ways to care for your tools is to store them out of the weather and hang them so the tools do not rest on their working ends.

    Remember for long lasting tools: always buy the best quality tool that you can afford!

    January 2015

  • Rose pruning can be a little intimidating. If this is the year you would like to increase your pruning confidence give Mary a call early to reserve your appointment time.
  • When you are just itching to get out and prune something remember that dead and damaged branches can be pruned from evergreen plants at any time of year.
  • Remember to sharpen your pruning tools before using. Sharp tools make clean cuts; dull blades can crush and tear stems creating entry points for insects and disease. Plus, using sharp tools is easier on your hands!
  • Spur prune Wisteria to 2 or 3 fat buds.
  • Old fruit that is still hanging on your fruit trees are called ‘Mummies’ and they can harbor pests and disease; remove as many mummies as you can and discard them. Also, clean up fallen fruit from the ground in order to keep insect populations and fungal diseases down.
  • Pruning fruit trees-Every fruit tree grower seems to have their own reasons for the timing of their pruning. One question to ask yourself before you prune is ‘would this fruit tree be less susceptible to diseases such as canker and eutypa dieback if I waited and pruned it in the summer?’ Stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, cherry, apricots and plums) are pruned in summer by many fruit growers for just this reason. Whenever you choose to prune, proper pruning cuts are important. Contact Mary for an appointment when you would like to learn more about pruning your fruit trees.
  • Save Money! Bareroot roses and fruit trees are in the local nurseries now! In order to continue to have such a variety of fruits to choose from it’s important to buy from our locally owned nurseries.
  • If you have had a hard time getting your sweet pea seeds to germinate in ground try growing them up in six packs first and then transplanting the starts into the garden. Use a fork to gently lift the plant from each six pack cell.
  • Weeding continues this month as long as the soil is workable and not soggy.
  • Daphne shrubs will be in nurseries this month! If you want something yummy to smell in your garden in winter nothing beats Daphne. For best fragrance impact, plant Daphne close to your most used entryway door. Daphne prefers well draining soil so best to prepare your planting hole properly for best results. Mulch well after planting (keeping mulch a few inches away from trunk).

Planting Suggestions for January
  • You may have missed planting your bulbs in ground last fall but the good news is that nurseries planted them for you in 4 inch containers! You can create some amazingly colorful container plantings this month! Fill them with: ranunculus, anemone, primrose and narcissus.
  • Satureja douglasii (Yerba buena) is a great California native plant for spilling over your winter containers! It smells like double mint too!
  • Watch for bareroot fruit trees, berries, roses and others coming into your local nurseries. Shop early in the season for best selection.
  • When you buy a bareroot rose you can plant it in ground or you can encourage more rooting by planting it up into a five gallon container (keep it watered throughout the year) and plant it next year.

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