With 2011 behind us and 2012 ahead, it's time to think about how you would like to interact with your garden this year. During these cold and quiet days think about what you would like to plant or change in your garden before the heady days of spring turn your head.
- Water Since we haven't had much rain, I advise turning on your irrigation manually or hand-watering plants a few times this month. Plants can get stressed in our current cold, dry weather.
- Frost Watch Continue to watch weather reports for frosts and protect sensitive plants by covering them.
- Do not prune branches damaged by frost It's hard to tell where the damage begins and ends so wait till March for pruning off blackened and damaged branches. That plant that looks like a lost cause might make a remarkable recovery!
- Prune hybrid-tea roses Remove dead wood, crossing branches and suckers at base of the plant. Next, cut back canes by one-third to one-half. Always cut above a swelling bud that is facing out from the center of the plant otherwise you will end up with a dead cane or a coat rack.
- Prune climbing roses Prune for height and shape by removing weak, long shoots and congested, twiggy growth. As with hybrid roses, make cuts at at a point above an outward-facing bud. Leave a few buds on each branch.
- Old roses Approach pruning carefully with these type of plants. I would remove dead wood and some crossing branches. Some old shrub varieties like to be pruned after they finish blooming in the spring but it's a thorny and difficult subject on which I don't feel absolutley qualified to pontificate!
- Spray roses and fruit trees Some people like to use horticultural oil mixed with water to kill insect eggs, mites, scale and soft-bodies insects that might be overwintering on your plants. I find that if you have a divesity of plants and good circulation in your garden this step isn't always necessary.
- Pre-order bare-root plants like grapes, cane berries, fruit trees, strawberries and roses -or- purchase in the nursery next month.
- Poinsettias I compost mine but if you would like to keep yours, plant it in a sunny spot preferably against a south-facing wall. I have seen a couple examples of Poinsettias doing fine in San Leandro. Good luck!