As you might have noticed from weather reports around the country, winter has fully arrived! Of course, for those of us in Southern California, winter just doesn’t mean the same thing as it does elsewhere. So when it comes to winter gardening, you might have a few questions.
Can I plant spring bulbs yet? Yes! In fact, please hurry. In our growing zone, spring bulbs should be planted in December or the first few weeks of January.
Examine bulbs first, and discard any that are mushy, moldy, or smelly. You can also float test them, by tossing the bulbs in a bucket of water. Healthy bulbs should sink to the bottom; throw away the ones that float.
Ideally, bulbs should chill in the refrigerator for four to six weeks before planting. But if you’ve skipped this step, rest assured you can still get acceptable results from your bulbs.
Where did my bulbs go? If you dig around in your garden only to discover that previously planted bulbs have disappeared, they could have been eaten by moles. But the most common culprit is overly wet conditions. If your flower beds don’t drain as they should, or if you’re overwatering them, bulbs will rot in the ground and you won’t see many blooms in the spring.
Can I prune my roses? Yes! The ideal time to prune roses is when new growth first appears. In warmer climates like ours, that usually means January or so. Cut out all dead wood (it will be brown) and leave the new growth (which will be green). Also make sure to take out branches that grow too closely together, because these impede air flow and encourage disease to spread.
What do I do about my grass? If you have warm season grass, it probably won’t need to be mowed after December. But you might find that you still need to edge and trim occasionally. You might also battle weeds in the usual manner.
As for watering, you can cut down to about half of your usual water amount. Winter is also a great time to test the nutrients in your soil, so that you have a good idea of the amendments needed in spring.
If you have questions about winter gardening, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’ll be happy to help you troubleshoot any issues and make a plan for spring.