Winter Garden Guide
Compiled by the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants, Inc.
Printable PDF version here
► . . . just about everything. If winter rains drench your soil, hold off until things dry out a bit, especially if you have clay soils. Don’t back-fill a hole with muddy soil; it’s bad for the root ball.
► You can still sow wild flower seeds. Soils soaked by winter rains help your seeds along. Be sure to get them in place by the end of January!
► If winter rains haven’t shown up, or if they haven’t blown through in the past three weeks, give everything a long, deep soak. In dry periods, check and fix watering basins and fill up once or twice to get a deep soak. But if we’ve gotten a strong series of rain storms, break the water wells and let the water flow away from the base of the plant.
► In any case, refresh your mulch!
► You can still dig up and divide cool season grasses such as Festuca, Nassella, Leymus, Calamagrostis, and Melica. Make sure each clump has a good root ball. Water well. Also divide Sisyrinchium, Carex and Juncus species. See sidebar pointers on dividing Heuchera. Iris start growing again about this time and can be divided as well, though it’s better to do so in the December dormant period. Prune and Cut Back
► If you haven’t pruned back last year’s growth, consider doing it before plants get too leggy with new growth. Salvia, Eriogonum, Penstemon, Artemisia, and Epilobium can be pruned now. If you experience frost, hold off until early spring.
► Acer, Amelanchier, Betula, and Sambucus are all dormant and should be pruned, trimmed, and trained.
► Garrya should be pruned after those amazing catkins fade, but before new growth starts in late winter or early spring.
► HOLD IT! Don’t prune Ceanothus until after they bloom. Much of your shrub and perennial pruning should be reserved for late spring and early summer when the spring bloom has faded.
► There aren’t too many sources of information on pruning California natives. But “Pruning and Training” by the American Horticultural Society does contain information on the most common local natives and provides good basic concepts.