Maintenance Information

If you are searching for particular maintenance information, please see the blogs for the months that correspond to the time frame that you are searching. Also check the labels of the blogs (at the base of the blog page) for blog subjects that might be helpful.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Roses of Winter

It may not seem like it but we are still in winter, here in Northern California. The plants are very confused and are already in Full spring bloom!
 Normally we would have colder temps and in the harshest days of winter our Camellia japonicas are there to cheer us up with their lovely blooms, perfect for bringing into the house to float in flat bowls of water or arrange in bases.
I like to call them the "roses of winter". Big full blossoms typically in red,pink and white colors or blends of these colors. Camellia japonica is a large shrub measuring up to 10-15' high but easily kept at 6-8' or less. They are very hardy to cold and moderate water but should be in a location with some shade especially from the harsh afternoon sun. Use an acidic soil conditioner when planting as they prefer forest conditions with lots of rich humus (organic matter) for their roots. Fertilize with Camellia-Azalea food in the fall and water in well.
Once established these shrubs are extremely long lasting and sturdy. Pick up the flower heads as they fall to avoid spots on the petals called petal blight.
Water your mature shrubs once a week deeply in the warm months. New shrubs should be watered twice a week or more depending on the temperature.

There are are other species of Camellias which are smaller and bloom in fall but for a great winter bloom check out the japonicas. This is a great time to see them in botanical, residential or public gardens. 

Pictured below are just a few examples of the vast array available.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Want a hardy Hibiscus?

Although it is tempting to plant a Tropical Hibiscus in our area (Northern and upper Central California) it is not advisable, due to winter cold i.e. freeze and cold snaps. Even the mildest freeze will damage Tropical Hibiscus. Certainly, there are exceptions but for the most part these plants are often better treated as annual potted plants rather than set out into the garden. We will see if global warming changes these comments but for now you may want to try a hardier Hibiscus called "Rose of Sharon" or Hibiscus syriacus.
The difference being that Hibiscus syriacus is a deciduous shrub so it can live through the winter as a dormant plant rather than suffering through winter with an abundance of tender leaves.
There are some beautiful hybrids of this plant with varied sized flowers and colors. It is also fairly low water once it is established. Rose of Sharon is a large plant usually 6-8' tall and can be purchased as a single trunked  small tree or as a multi trunked large shrub.
They have a bit of yellow fall color and lovely small leaves.
Plant in full sun and in a spot with good air circulation. Water well at first to avoid wilting then taper off water to once or twice a week. Trim only for shape and do not shear, instead selectively prune away foliage that is diseased, dead or in need of clipping.

Pictured below ar Hibiscus syriacus 'Minerva', 'Diana', and 'Red Heart' (in order shown)