Brazilian pepper – Schinus terebinthifolius and California pepper (left) – Schinus mole to a lesser degree, need to have their suckers removed or you may find yourself with a very spreading invasive tree that looks like a very giant bush. Both these trees look much more attractive if a lot of the upright growing branches are trimmed creating a weeping look.
(right): Help stop or slow down the spread of fire blight (left) by removing dead looking branches and twigs. Cut about a foot below the visible damage and sterilize your clippers between cuts by dipping them in a diluted chlorine solution or other sterilizer. Otherwise prune these trees minimally to produce more blooms.
Ficus pumila (ficus repens) – Creeping Fig
(right): is a very common vine in southern California. It attaches itself to walls or building with barnacle bracts. It is an easy plant that grows in sun or shade but can become invasive and damage wood, window sills etc. if let go unchecked. Put into a planter the roots can completely engulf the planter. Despite these pitfalls this is one of our Garden Views favorite vines for blank walls. To keep its small attractive dainty leaf cut back often. Leaves and vines left un-pruned (left) will be become large and less attractive. This plant can take severe pruning whenever needed and even be pruned down to the ground occasionally this will encourage the new dainty leaves.
(right): this is a good time to prune out sprawling stems and cut back growth that has become to too tall. You can safely cut almost a third of the plant remove suckers now and on a regular basis. Tearing the suckers off with a harsh downward and forward tug usually prevents them from growing back.
(left): are the trees with the green trunks that often have spikes (right). Come into full bloom in September. Cut back on watering in August and September to get more blooms. This tree when established will do well with once a month watering throughout the year and only light and occasional pruning.
(left): plants can use a light dose of fertilizer to help prolong blooms. Don’t overdo it; this plant is very susceptible to white fly infestation that is very hard to eradicate. Garden View crews have discovered that overly fertilized and watered Hibiscus is much likely to have problems. Tip pinching in spring and summer increases bloom. Trimming off about 1/3 of old wood in early spring keeps the plant growing vigorously. Stop pruning now so that they are hardened off for winter frost and better blooms next spring. If you have to, give it one more slight pruning now but stop after that for the winter. (see our article on Pruning)
Avocado and Citrus Trees
The middle of September is a good time to trim avocado (right) and citrus trees. This is best accomplished with light pruning a couple times a year. Cut off all the vigorous, upright growing water sprouts. Prune again in March.
Bloody Cranesbill – Geranium sanguineum
(left): Cut hard now to increase bloom and have a compact plant for the winter.
(right):These beautiful low water and long flowering trees need minimum maintenance but it is very important to remove suckers growing from the trunk. If suckers are alloyed to grow the tree may get powdery mildew which looks like it sounds growing on the leaves and the branches. This will be especially profound if the tree is growing in a regular watered lawn.
Sycamore Trees, Fruit Trees
and many other trees will be showing excessive leaf drop during the heat. They are not able to move enough water from the ground to the leaf and/or fruit. To protect itself the tree drops leaves and fruit. This is OK and natural. The fewer fruit will result in better and larger fruit at harvest time. Adding more water may not help. Trees that have been grown with frequent watering thus producing smaller roots will be more likely to have leaf drop. Most large trees appreciate an occasional deep watering (see our article on Deep Watering). This will increase the debt of the roots system, the storage capacity of the tree and many benefits.
Agapanthus – Lily of the Nile
(Left): This is one of southern California’s favorite plants. It is a nice attractive strap leaf shrub most of the year with beautiful flowers in late spring and early summer and it is relatively water wise. In the full sun and extreme heat the leaves will often show some signs of fading or scorching especially where the leaves are bending. Not much can be done about this and it lasts only a month or two.
(Right): Many flaxes will also have the same reaction to extreme heat. It is best to leave the scorched leaves until the heat has passed as they are protecting the leaves underneath. Remove the dead leaves at the bottom of the plant as you would normally.
What is Rolling up the Sod in my Garden?
(Left): Raccoons, skunks, and other animals can be a considerable nuisance when they roll up freshly laid sod in search of earthworms and grubs. They may return repeatedly and roll up extensive areas of sod on successive nights. This behavior is particularly common in mid- to late summer as young raccoons are learning to forage for themselves, and during periods of dry weather when other food sources may be less available. Garden View Gardeners have also observed that this problem is much more severe when sod is new and being watered excessively. The grubs come to the surface and the animals find them easy prey, Garden View Landscapers have found that soil drenching insect killers like Merit, Bayer’s Advanced Season Lawn Grub control or Bayer’s Advanced complete insect killer for lawn and soil helps. Turning down the water also makes a big difference.
(Right): These plants prefer well drained soil and very little or no fertilizer. To keep the plants neat and compact shear back 1/3 to ½ of the plant immediately after bloom. If the plant becomes woody remove a few of the oldest branches, remove more when new growth comes. If this does not work remove and replace the plant. This plant does best if compost is not put around it. Gravel works good though.
(Left): Don’t prune Leptospermum in Fall. This plant has magnificent blooms in spring, and trimming in fall will reduce the abundance of blooms. This is an easy to maintain, low water need plant. Best if grown in well draining soil. Watch that they don’t get over-watered in clay soil as they may get a root rot.
Honeysuckle – Lonicera Sempervirens
(left): Blooms from late spring through much of the summer, prune heavy in early spring and again at end of flowering in September.
Spade or rotary-till plenty of organic matter into beds before doing any planting.
Feed Many Plants:
After you set out fall flower and vegetable plants, wait about two weeks before feeding them with dilute or granular high-nitrogen food. Continue to feed fuchsias and begonias once or twice a month. Fertilize shrubs, trees, and ground covers about a month after you plant them then not again until next spring.
Groom flowering plants:
Pick faded flowers from begonias and dahlias (See our article on Deadheading). For more handsome geraniums and pelargoniums next spring, cut back leggy plants. Prune marguerites back by about a third to force new growth and compactness.
In the face of still summer-like-temperatures, it’s a good idea to thicken layers of root cooling, water-saving, and weed-smothering mulch around any plants. Try ground fir bark, peat moss, straw or hay, compost. Take special care to mulch newly planted items.
Plant Fall-Blooming Bulbs:
For super-quick color, plant corms of autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) and bulbs of spider lily (lycoris). They’ll bloom almost immediately. Fall-blooming true’ crocus species are sometime available. (See our article on Bulbs)
Set out hardy evergreen and deciduous, shrubs, trees, and ground covers. Plant cool-season lawns from sod or seed. Be sure to water plants regularly until winter rain comes.
Planting Spring-Blooming Bulbs:
Most Dutch-grown bulbs arrive in nurseries this month. For best performance from crocus, daffodi1s, hyacinth, grape hyacinth (Muscari and tulips, buy bulbs early. Chill these in a paper bag in a 45-degree refrigerator for six weeks before planting. About mid-month the South African natives arrive; look for freesia, ixia, sparaxis; watsonia and many others. And don’t forget ranunculus.
Plant Winter-Spring Flowers:
For garden color from Thanksgiving through at least April, you can set out nursery seedlings of calendula, candytuft, cineraria, delphinium, English daisy, foxglove, Iceland poppy, nemesia, pansy, penstemon, snapdragon, stock, sweet William, and violas. You can still start seeds in flats for transplanting in four to eight weeks. Water young seedlings religiously during hot weather.
Plant Winter Vegetables:
Sow seeds or set out seedlings of beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, celery, chard, chives, collards, kale, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, onions, parsley, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach, and turnips. In very hot areas, shade plants for a few days until established.
If September’s usual hot, dry Santa Ana winds threaten, try to deep-water your plants before the blow. Water during cool morning or event no hours to reduce losses due to evaporation.