Gardening in February: Wet weather is the perfect time to add native plants to your landscape

Gardening in February: Wet weather is the perfect time to add native plants to your landscape

Native plants thrive in this California garden. Image courtesy Getty Images.

Do you have a gardening question? the University of California Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County I can help. Our volunteers are part of the UCLA Cooperative Extension Program, and we are trained to use research-based information to educate our fellow residents about sustainable gardening and landscaping practices specifically for our region. Our monthly Ask a Master Gardener column will answer your questions and offer advice. I have a question? e-mail

I’m thinking about adding California native plants to my garden, but I don’t know where to start. What suggestions do you have?

You’re thinking about adding California native plants at the right time. Natives respond well to wet winter weather, promoting extensive root growth needed for spring growth and the hot, dry summer months ahead.

Start thinking about your landscape design. You’ll need to consider your garden’s exposure to sunlight so you can choose the right plant for the right place. The Santa Clara County Master Gardeners are offering a class Feb. 13 in Mountain View called Design Fundamentals for Waterwise Front Yards that may help. You can also check out design ideas from Bloom! California to match the space and style of your garden.

Your next question might be what are you going to plant? It depends on your planting location and the individual cultural requirements of the plant. To help, the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) has created a database where you can enter your address and find plants that do best in your area in relation to the conditions in your garden, such as sun or shade. Calscape’s Bay Area Garden Planner offers an online tool to help you choose the right plants for your landscape.

The CNPS website section on Getting Started with Native Plants will give you a wealth of useful information about selecting, planting, and caring for California natives. Here’s another resource: California Native Plants: Beauty and Many Environmental Benefits

Here are some events to help you get started. And good luck!

Gardening tips for February

Fertilize your citrus trees

In California, most soils contain sufficient nutrients for citrus growth, with the exception of nitrogen. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient that trees need, and there are commercial fertilizers specifically balanced for citrus. One-year-old trees will need about a tenth of a pound of nitrogen, while mature trees need about 1.5 pounds. Divide these amounts into two to three applications.

Blood meal without all the fillers is an excellent source of nitrogen, or you can purchase a balanced product that contains zinc. Distribute the fertilizer evenly over the entire root zone and water in.

You should apply nitrogen in January or February just before flowering. He submitted the second application in May and perhaps the third in June. Avoid fertilizing late in the season because it may affect fruit quality, delay fruit coloring, and make the skin rough. Dwarf plants or trees in containers with limited root space may require less fertilizer.

Maintaining a good fertilization program can help maintain the tree’s natural resistance to fungal diseases such as oak root fungus. Be careful not to over-fertilize as this will cause new overgrowth, making the trees susceptible to other disorders, such as bacterial blast. (Source: University of California IPM)

Event: Citrus Growing in Santa Clara County, Feb. 10, Sunnyvale

Keep weeds at bay

While some weeds are edible (purslane, nettle, dandelion, mine lettuce), many are a nuisance and compete with your chosen plants for water and nutrients. Whichever version of the phrase “one year’s seeds make seven years’ weeds” you prefer, the fact remains: An essential part of weed control is not letting it go to seed. For best results, remove weeds before they can spread. Hand pulling and hoeing are effective ways to kill many common weeds.

Knowing what type of weed you have and how it spreads can be helpful in choosing the best management method. If propagated by seed, pull or hoe them before they flower and go to seed. If it regrows from the roots, pull out as much of the root as possible. Many grasses, such as Bermuda grass, have multiple methods of reproduction. It is recommended that only non-spreadable parts be thrown into the compost bin.

Event: Spring Weed Control, February 15, online

More information: UC Quick Tips on Weeds in Landscapes

Stake your trees, if necessary

Not all new trees need to be stabilized. Engage only if necessary for protection, stabilization or support. Do not place stakes near the tree trunk. Place the stakes on opposite sides of the tree, outside the root ball. Make sure the stakes do not rub against the trunk or branches. Ties should not be added higher than necessary to support the trunk. This allows for the greatest possible freedom of movement, and the movement builds trunk strength. Check the tree regularly to make sure there is no damage. Remove the ties and stakes when the tree can stand on its own, usually after a year or so.

More information: The pillar of the tree

Plant cool-season vegetables again

Salad greens, carrots, beets, fennel, cauliflower, and bok choy are just a few of the vegetables you can grow now. Warmer weather and longer days will help them mature quickly. By the time they’re finished, it will be warm enough to plant summer vegetables like tomatoes and peppers. You can direct the seeds into the garden or start by growing seedlings. Use our vegetable planting chart for a full list of suggestions.

Want to ask a UCLA Master Gardener what’s wrong with your plant? Send us your questions Help Desk Connected. Find Garden events and classes are here.

You also cthat Subscribe to our monthly newsletter Tips and Events Newsletter And to our seasonality Thyme Garden Blog. San Mateo residents can find gardening tips on the site University of California Master Gardeners of San Mateo and San Francisco website.

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