Califonia Bountiful

Gardening Q&A

Mar./Apr. 2016 California Bountiful magazine

As a California Bountiful reader, you have the opportunity to get your seasonal gardening questions answered by gardening expert Pat Rubin. Here are a few questions from our readers.

Bearded iris

Are there any beautiful plants I can put in my sunny garden that are very low water users that maybe need only occasional watering?

Absolutely. But the key is you have to plant early, in the fall or spring, and let them get a good root system growing. The first summer or two they will need regular watering, but you can probably get away with spot watering them once or twice a week. Keep an eye on how the leaves react; if they look droopy or stressed, give the plant some water. Here are a few plants I have in my garden that get no water during the summer, drought or not: lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus), rosemary, Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas), smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria) and bearded iris. One strategy is to plant these sorts of plants farther away from the house and to keep plants that need more care and water closer to the house, thus conserving water in most of the garden while still having beautiful plants to enjoy.

My cedar tree has dozens of little seedlings beneath it. I hate to pull them out and toss them in the compost. Can I transplant them or pot them up for friends?

Yes, absolutely. I would dig them up while the ground is still moist from spring rains, so you get as much of the root system as possible. Use a planting mix that has plenty of compost in it, and you'll likely need to water the pots once a day, perhaps more when it's really hot.


About Pat Rubin, California Bountiful's gardening expert

For Pat Rubin, gardening is more than just dirt and plants. "It's about history, romance, adventure and people," she says. "And it should be fun."

California Bountiful's gardening columnist has lived and chronicled this fun, hands-in-the-dirt approach for years—and for additional publications including Fine Gardening, Pacific Horticulture, Christian Science Monitor, Family Circle and The Sacramento Bee. Pat has also volunteered as a Master Gardener, speaks to garden clubs and appears regularly on gardening radio shows.

Need gardening advice? Ask the expert!

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