Califonia Bountiful

Gardening Q&A

November/December 2020 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.

Is it true that watering your plants before a frost will help protect them from freezing?

Yes, it is, in certain circumstances. If there's been a dry spell and freezing temperatures are expected, water your plants. Get the roots and foliage wet. Water freezes at a slightly higher temperature than the foliage, so the ice can act as a protective barrier. For more sensitive plants such as gardenias, you may still have some frost damage, but hopefully you won't lose the plant. There are also covers you can put over plants to help protect them. Although these methods work well, they aren't designed to allow you to grow palm trees at high altitudes in the snow. The exception to this rule involves succulents. Lightly water them once a month. Bring them under cover near the house if you can. Overwatered succulents turn to mush when the thermometer dips below 32 degrees.

My garden needs some cheering up in the winter. What plants bloom during winter?

The list is quite extensive. Shrubs include daphne, camellia, rosemary, loropetalum and more. There are bulbs you can plant in the fall for winter flowers: daffodils, hyacinths, paperwhites and crocus. Don't forget plants with berries: nandina, beautyberry, pyracantha (if you have lots of room), cotoneaster and more. If you grow roses, don't deadhead them and they will make rose hips (seedpod), which can be very attractive. Visit your local nursery to see what's in bloom.

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