December Garden Tasks

     Winter begins and plant growth is on hold until February

Prune to shape evergreens, and save some of the trimmings for holiday decorations, such as from this Hollyleaf Cherry.

Prune to shape evergreens, and save some of the trimmings for holiday decorations, such as from this Hollyleaf Cherry (yes, my ocean-bred husband does wear shorts all year, even in winter unless it is literally freezing).

 

~Prune to shape evergreens like arborvitae, juniper, pines, and cypress—and save trimmings for holiday decorations

~Prune dense trees to avoid wind damage; make sure young trees are well-staked

~For overnight protection when frost threatens, cover delicate plants with large cardboard boxes, old sheets or tarps

~Consider setting irrigation timers to “off”, and manually water in response to our irregular winter weather, based on winds, rain, or snow; using the manual mode on your controller in winter can save precious water

 

 

Check out our featured “Plant of The Month” for December

 

 November Garden Tasks

     Last chance for fall planting season while roots are still active

 

This is your last chance for the fall planting season while roots are still active in warm soils

This is your last chance for the fall planting season while roots are still active in warm soils

~You may continue planting this month even with cooler temperatures, but plants will establish roots more slowly than earlier in fall

~Finish planting California natives

~Plant seeds for spring & summer blooms; choose mix of western wild flowers with annuals & perennials for long-lasting color

~Irrigate frequently during Santa Ana winds, which pull moisture from both plants and soil

~Give one last deep watering to deciduous trees and grapevines but discontinue feeding to harden them off for cold weather

~Irrigate fall-planted trees and bushes deeply once or twice this month to ensure good root formation prior to dormancy

 

Check out our featured “Plant of The Month” for November

 

October Garden Tasks

Fall is the perfect time to plant new native and drought-tolerant plants, when soils are still warm but air temperatures have cooled down. Your established plants will need less water as nights get cooler and longer, so remember to adjust your irrigation timers to water less often.

 

     Take advantage of fall planting season to develop strong, summer-ready plants

 

~ Continue to plant native and drought-tolerant perennial plants and trees. Fall plantings develop deep roots while soils are still warm but the air is cool, which stimulates root growth. This early root establishment reduces water needs during your new plant’s two- to three-year establishment.

~ Adjust irrigation timers as nights get longer and cooler. Simply making monthly changes to your irrigation schedule can save more water and money than any other thing you can do

~ Fall opportunity to transplant Joshua trees and yuccas from late September to October.

~ Reduce water to cactus and succulents to prepare them for winter rest and protect against frost damage.

~ Fall annuals abound in nurseries, but are mostly high water-use; consider using them only near entries, on patios, and in containers. Plant perennials and bulbs for less maintenance and lower water use.

 

Check out our featured “Plant of The Month” for October

 

You can find CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANTS at these southland nurseries:

 

High Desert

Bush Monkeyflower - long-blooming, evergreen native shrub waiting for your yard!

Bush Monkeyflower – long-blooming, evergreen native shrub waiting for your yard!

 

Cactus Mart

49889 29 Palms Hwy

Morongo Valley, CA 92256

(760) 363-6076

www.cactusmart.net

 

Unique Garden Center

56637 29 Palms Hwy

Yucca Valley, CA 92284

(760) 365-1511

 

Oak Hills Nursery 

Hollyleaf Cherry - native evergreen shrub or small tree makes a great privacy screen.

Hollyleaf Cherry – native evergreen shrub or small tree that makes a great privacy screen.

13874 Ranchero Rd.

Oak Hills, CA 92344

(760) 947-6261

 www.oakhillsnursery.net

 

Low Desert

 

Bob Williams Nursery

48-575 Madison

Indio, CA 92201

(760) 347-6397

www.bobwilliamsnursery.com

 

The Living Desert

For stunning fall color & hummingbird magnet, plant California Fuchsia in masses.

For stunning fall color and a guaranteed hummingbird magnet, plant California Fuchsia in masses.

47-900 Portola Ave.

Palm Desert, CA 92260

(760) 346-5694

www.livingdesert.org

 

Moorten Botanical Garden

1701 S. Palm Canyon Dr.

Palm Springs, CA 92264

(760) 327-6555

 

Southland and Beyond

 

Las Pilitas

One of our most drought-tolerant native plants, California Buckwheat fills in your yard like baby's breath fills in a bouquet.

One of our most drought-tolerant native plants, California Buckwheat fills in your yard like baby’s breath fills in a bouquet.

8331 Nelson Way

Escondido, CA 92026

(760) 749-5930

www.laspilitas.com

 

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens

1500 North College Ave.

Claremont, CA 91711-3157

(909) 625-8676

see website for plant sale dates

www.rsabg.org

 

Native Sons Inc.

379 W. El Campo Rd.

Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

1-805-481-5996

Bountiful flowers from late afternoon through early morning attract hummingbirds, butterflies and moths to Bigelow's Four O'Clock, a tidy, rounded, native evergreen shrub.

Bountiful flowers from late afternoon through early morning attract hummingbirds, butterflies and moths to Bigelow’s Four O’Clock, a tidy, rounded, native evergreen shrub.

www.nativeson.com

 

Tree of Life Nursery

33201 Ortega Hwy

P.O. Box 635

San Juan Capistrano, CA 92693

(949) 728-0685

www.treeoflifenursery.com

 

High Country Gardens

2902 Rufina St.

Santa Fe, NM 87505

1-800-925-9387

www.highcountrygardens.com

 

Mockingbird Nursery

Desert Sage's late winter and spring whorls of blue flowers attract hummingbirds.

Desert Sage’s late winter and spring whorls of blue flowers attract hummingbirds.

1670 Jackson St.

Riverside, CA 92504

(909) 780-3571

www.mockingbirdnursery.com

 

Theodore Payne Foundation

10459 Tuxford St.

Sun Valley, CA 91352-2126

(818) 768-1802

www.theodorepayne.org

 

Misty Meadows Landscape Nursery
43601 Mesa St
Banning Ca 92220
951-765-7542

 

Why Plant Native?

Inviting Native Plants into Your Yard

Tips on Planting Native Plants

Tips on Watering Native Plants

Native Plants for High-Desert Gardens

Sep
25
0

Why Plant Native?

Prickly Poppy

Prickly Poppy

We have been trained, over generations of time, that whenever we move into an area, we are to remove the native plants growing on our new site and replace them with plants from wherever we were before, or at least with plants we are familiar with. The plants we introduce into our new setting are not necessarily the ones best adapted to that area, but are the ones that have been marketed to us as the industrial standards that are the “right” ones to use. These plants are invariably mass-produced, mass-marketed, and are therefore the plants that we see for sale all around us: available, cheap, and familiar.

If our new place does not support the plants we have been trained to want (due to climate or soils, for instance), we change the place. We remove the native plants (often considered “weeds”), take out the native soil, bring in new soil, install irrigation, and add pesticides and fertilizers so the introduced plants will be able to tolerate a climate they are not naturally adapted to survive.

What we end up with across America are the same plants, with the same look, no matter where we live. What differs is the amount of time and resources spent to keep those plants living in every conceivable climate to which they are subjected. This may achieve a certain aesthetic look, but it is not ecological in any way. Traditional landscape designs often isolate yards and gardens from the natural environment, then drain the surroundings of resources and add nothing back in return (except for tainting the whole setting with toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides).

Our best approach to landscaping is to select plants appropriate to our place, and not try to change our place to fit inappropriate plants. By selecting plants that have evolved with our region’s climate and soils, we eliminate the need to constantly add resources not supplied naturally by our climate. Plants native to an area evolved to grow and thrive in those local conditions, and do not need the place changed at all to survive. Our native plants need very little care or maintenance and need very little or no added water or soil amendments. We may be surprised to find how many songbirds are attracted to our native yard plantings, and pleased to realize that those songbirds keep pests under control, eliminating the need for pesticides.

Paperbag bush flowers_0422_RK-sm

Paperbag Bush Flowers

Some of the benefits of landscaping with natives, or “naturescaping”, include low maintenance, little or no watering after establishment, no need for chemical pesticides or fertilizers, less cost to maintain, healthier home-site (no leaching of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers into groundwater), enhanced property value, and providing habitat for songbirds whose populations are dropping dramatically every year due to loss of habitat.

Let’s change our way of thinking: pick the plant that fits the place, and not change the place to fit the plant. Native plants take care of themselves because they evolved to grow naturally in your own back yard. Desert native plants, in particular, thrive in one of the harshest environments on our planet, and should be the first landscape plants invited back into our southwest desert yards.

                                           Inviting Native Plants into Your Yard

Tips on Planting Native Plants

Tips on Watering Native Plants

Nurseries Selling California Native Plants

Native Plants for High-Desert Gardens

 

First and foremost, planting at the appropriate time (late fall through early spring) is key to survival for desert native plants. This allows the root system to become established during the cool, rainy season, well before the harsh summer months.

Chaparral Bush Mallow

Chaparral Bush Mallow

It is in our nature to buy bigger plants because we want the end result right now; however, it is better to plant smaller natives because they will not develop a damaged root system from growing too long in the container, and the roots will grow faster in their new home. Deep roots are a critical element in a plant’s drought-tolerance. If a native plant has been kept in a pot too long, the roots will hit the bottom of the pot and start coiling. This can cause long-term damage to the roots, and hamper the tap root from reaching its full potential as a lengthy “straw” penetrating into deep, moist soil.

There is some discussion about whether to use a planting mix, mulch, or neither when plant­ing natives. One thought is that because they are nursery grown, they have been spoiled with optimal care, and to set them out in the world with poor soil conditions from the start would set them back. Once they out-grow the amended soil they are planted in, they will be stronger and better able to continue on their own. As the composted mulch breaks down, the humus it contains binds with soil particles to actually improve drainage conditions over time. This holds true for poorly-draining soils, such as caliche and clay, but granitic and sandy soils are fast-draining naturally, and don’t require amendments to improve drainage.

A second thought is that plants which are native to our “Creosote Bush Scrub” habitat have adapted to so little organic material in the soil, no amendments are needed during planting. While soil amend­ments may be optional for some of our desert native plants, one plant that seems to hate soil amendments or fertilizer of any kind is creosote. Native plants from other (more moist) California regions seem to tolerate or appreciate some soil amendments during planting; however, native plants from all habitats in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts except streamside or marsh habitats seem to grow best when planted with no added soil amendments or fertilizers. Most desert natives (especially cactus and all succulents like yuccas and nolinas), do best with no added soil amendments. Do not fertilize any desert natives.

Datura Native Plant

Datura

Most native species have difficulty becoming established if planted in the heat of summer. The best approach is to postpone planting until late fall. In high desert climates, postpone planting in early fall if temperatures are still warm, as tender new growth encouraged by the warmth may freeze as winter arrives. Later (cooler) fall planting is less likely to encourage new leaf growth before the plant’s first encounter with winter freezes. Early fall plantings are safe in low desert areas, as winter frosts are uncommon.

If you have to install plants in the summer, consider providing temporary shade to native plantings. Use burlap or other mesh cloth sup­ported by stakes on the sunny side of the plant to create a cooler micro-environment. Don’t drape the shade fabric over the plant, as this will create even hotter conditions. Remem­ber, if you wait until the fall or early spring to install native plants, everything is easier for both you and the plants.

Why Plant Native?

Tips on Planting Native Plants

Tips on Watering Native Plants

Nurseries Selling California Native Plants

Native Plants for High-Desert Gardens