In zone 9b our cool winter weather is short-lived. This year especially, we have only had a handful of mornings where we have been kissed by frost. Speaking of frost, our last frost date is usually noted around February 1st. What this means is that we don't have a lot of time to rest nor put our feet up! Tasks that most gardeners in other colder growing zones take on in March and April, in zone 9 we are often taking on in February.
So let's get groovin' in the garden!
Install stakes, Hortinova Tenax, and appropriate support for early Spring plants and perennials.
Once warm weather begins, plants that have been rooting over the cooler months will take off quickly.
We like to use T-posts when there is a need for sturdy posts. Hortinova tenax is an extremely durable material that we use for plants that need vertical and horizontal support. We find the 48" width the most versatile for our use here at the farm and we can cut to size based on the width of our beds. In terms of sustainability, we are still using the same tenax we purchased when we started the farm 5 years ago.
We install tenax vertically for sweet peas and tenax horizontally for plants like Larkspur. (We use the same tenax later in the season for other blooms such as zinnias and cosmos.)
Peonies may need a cage for support and climbing roses might need a prop to get going as well.
2. Plant out remaining bare-root shrubs and potted plants.
This is a great time to get any bare root or potted plants in the ground. Plant out any other shrubs and trees. The remaining cool weather will allow these plants to acclimate to their new home.
Peonies: We LOVE Marcia of Charmarron Peony Nursery in San Jose Hills. Her peony roots are VERY ROBUST and are attained directly from the Netherlands. You can purchase for mail order and or nursery pick up.
Roses: We LOVE Felicia of Menagerie Farm & Flower . She has an amazing selection of roses available for online purchase now!
For a little road trip and in-store browsing, Harmony Farm Supply and Nursery in Sebastopol is a must visit. Like Menagerie Farm, they too have an amazing selection of David Austin Roses, standard, and hard to find roses.
3.Check your stored dahlias, weekly.
It is important to check on your stored dahlias for appropriate humidity and potential rot on a weekly basis. Discard any tubers that are soft or mushy. You know the saying "One bad apple can spoil the bunch?" The same goes for dahlias!
If you haven’t started pre-sprouting dahlias, this is a great time to start and get ahead on the season.
Kristine Albrecht of Santa Cruz Dahlias is a great resource for propagation, storage, harvest, and care.
4. Take cuttings of geraniums and other easy to root plants.
This is a great time to yield more plants for the upcoming growing season. Geraniums are one of the easiest plants to propagate by cuttings. Just take a 4" snip, gently peel back the lower leaves to expose nodes, and place in a jar of water. Set the jar by the window and in a few short weeks, roots should emerge.
5. Cast out any remaining self-sowing seeds.
Plan your summer succession of plants and purchase seeds. Keep your eyes peeled for some new favorites such as the blush beauty Zinnias from Dawn Creek Farm of Santa Cruz.
If you have not yet shopped for your dahlia tubers, check out our dahlia tuber shop.