Gifts for Gardeners: Botanical Interests Seed Collections

GardenZeus receives commissions for purchases made through links in this post. There is no additional cost to you.

Need a gift for the gardener on your list? Or want to get a head start on your spring garden? Botanical Interests has several seed collections on sale. And shipping is free on certain orders for a limited time.

Containing everything you need to grow a healthy green salad, Super Organic Salads Seed Collection includes looseleaf lettuce, spinach, arugula, carrots, radish and more.

Get a head start on your spring tomato crop with a collection containing many GardenZeus-recommended tomato varieties. Heirloom Tomato Seed Collection contains Black Krim, Beefsteak, Brandywine, Cherry Red and Yellow Pear. And GardenZeus has complete growing instructions for tomato.

Know someone who likes to grow hot chile peppers? Chile Pepper Collection includes Serrano, Thai Hot, Cayenne, Habanero and  off-the charts-hot Bhut Jolokia. GardenZeus also has complete growing instructions for hot pepper.

Teach your children the joy of growing your own food. Children’s Garden Collection has seeds for growing popcorn, dwarf sunflowers, baby carrots, and small pumpkins for decorating!

Other collections that may be just right for someone on your shopping list: for the adventurous gardener, Unique Vegetables Collection; for the chef, Chef’s Herb Garden Collection, and for the chocolate lover, Chocolate Collection, filled with “chocolatish” flowers, a chocolate tomato and chocolate gardener’s scrubbing soap!

Other articles with holiday interest:

Indoor and Potted Plants for the Holiday Season

A Holiday Kiss Under the…Holly?: Mistletoe for The California Holidays, Part 1 of 3

A Holiday Kiss Under the…Tree-Killing Parasite?: Mistletoe for The California Holidays, Part 2 of 3

Super-Secret Trick to Evade a Kiss Under the Mistletoe: Mistletoe for the California Holidays, Part 3 of 3

 

Gifts for Gardeners: Garden Clogs and Boots

GardenZeus receives commissions for purchases made through links in this post. There is no additional cost to you.

Have a gardener on your shopping list?

Keep your feet warm and dry this winter with the ideal garden clog. Wear them in the rain. Clean them with a hose.  Easy to slip on and off. Available in different styles and a wide variety of colors. Try the polka dots: reminiscent of Christmas lights! Available from Amazon.

Also available as a boot. Again, from Amazon.

The best thing you can do during rainstorms or when soils are wet may be to stay out of the garden! But after the rain, a careful check of your garden is in order, especially after heavy rains or storms that last for 2 to 3 days or longer. Be prepared to work in your wet garden with garden clogs, or give them as a gift!

For a complete discussion of rain in the California garden, see the GardenZeus series:

Part 1: Preparing for Rain in California Gardens

Part 2: California Gardening During Rainstorms: Flush Salts and Avoid Soil Compaction

Part 3: Benefits of Rain For California Gardens

Part 4: California Gardening After the Storm: What to do When the Sun Comes Out

Indoor and Potted Plants for the Holiday Season

GardenZeus receives commissions for purchases made through links in this post. There is no additional cost to you.

There’s nothing quite like live plants to bring up the holiday spirit and please a gardener’s heart. Some potted holiday plants and trees can survive indoors or when planted outdoors for months to years or even decades after the holidays, and they often don’t cost more than the price of 2 or 3 bouquets of cut flowers. Below are tips for favorites that are widely available during the holiday season.

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima): Take special care with these fussy beauties. The most common reasons that poinsettias decline or lose their colorful bracts over the holidays are warm or cold temperatures, drafty conditions, insufficient light, and too much or too little water. They may decline at temperatures below 60 or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and may be damaged by several minutes of exposure to temperatures below 50°F. They need at least 6 hours of daily sunlight through a window or from an indoor fluorescent light, and prefer moist soil that isn’t wet or waterlogged. See Poinsettias: Tips, Care, and Fun Facts for the Holidays for compete information on growing poinsettias during the holidays.

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum cultivars): Hundreds of Amaryllis cultivars provide showy or even breathtaking single and double blooms in colors ranging from white to deep red, from salmon or peach to pink and maroon, and from solid single colors to striped and bicolored. Blooms may last weeks to months with proper care. Bulbs are welcome gifts for many gardeners who will grow them indoors after the holidays or even indoors/outdoors year-round. With proper care, some Hippeastrum species can survive and bloom for decades. Start early if you want to grow holiday Amaryllis from bulbs, in late September and October; many cultivars bloom 6 to 8 weeks after planting bulbs, but may take up to 12 weeks or longer. Be patient! Some Amarlyllis cultivars may take weeks to sprout leaves. During the holiday season, look for full-grown potted plants with healthy blooms or buds. Plant bulbs in pots with rich,well-drained potting soil and about 1/3 to 1/2 of the bulb above the soil surface. Water thoroughly, then allow soil to dry between waterings until bulbs sprout. Grow in a warm, sunny window after leaves emerge, and water more frequently during active growth and blooming so that soil stays slightly moist. Move plants to bright, indirect light when blooming begins.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera species and hybrids): Despite the name, Christmas Cactus is a tropical epiphyte, meaning that it grows on trees or in nooks among rocks. Flower colors include white, pink, yellow, orange, red, and bicolors. Grow as an indoor plant in rich-but-well-drained soil, such as potting soil mixed with washed sand. Allow soil to dry slightly between waterings, and provide extra water while blooming. Plants bloom best when fertilized monthly from about March through October with a mild dilution of a balanced NPK fertilizer and a pinch or two of epsom salts in a separate feeding every 2 to 4 weeks. Christmas cactus needs plenty of bright light but avoid direct exposure to sunlight. Plants may be grown outdoors in bright shade during periods of mild daytime and nighttime temperatures.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Potted rosemary as trimmed to the shape of a mini Christmas tree can be a charming addition to holiday décor. Its lovely aroma is a welcome addition for many gardeners during the holidays. It grows well in potting soil mixed with washed sand, or in any moderately fertile soil that drains well. Allow soil to dry partially between waterings. Potted rosemary can thrive for years with occasional careful root pruning as needed in a medium or large pot, but may quickly overrun a smaller pot and suffer from being rootbound. Trim or pinch back frequently if you want to maintain compact, dense shape. Rosemary does not resprout from woody stems; take care to prune for stem structure and shape the plant while stems are still green. Rosemary does well planted outdoors in California Mediterranean areas with mild frost and winter temperatures down to about 25°F. It becomes very drought-tolerant once established in the ground. If kept in a pot, soak the entire pot in a bucket of water or run water through the pot for a few minutes every few months to flush soil salts that accumulate from evaporated water. Setting the pot outdoors during rainstorms will also flush salts.

Potted Christmas Trees: Various evergreen species are sold locally and by mail-order as potted Christmas trees during the holidays, including spruce, fir, cypress, and others. The vast majority of evergreen trees sold or shipped as potted Christmas trees won’t thrive and might not survive when planted outdoors in California Mediterranean areas. Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) has an open form unlike the classic Christmas-tree shape of some spruce and fir species, but is often available as a potted holiday tree and survives well outdoors in Southern California coastal areas and mild-winter coastal-influence areas. If you want a live potted Christmas tree that you can plant outdoors after the holidays, try going to your local nursery and making a creative choice for an evergreen or other species suited to your climate, including those not necessarily sold as Christmas trees. You may find a species that can be trimmed into a Christmas-tree shape, or even if not, a tree that you can decorate now for the holidays, then enjoy in your outdoor landscape long after the holiday season has passed.

Other articles with holiday interest:

A Holiday Kiss Under the…Holly?: Mistletoe for The California Holidays, Part 1 of 3

A Holiday Kiss Under the…Tree-Killing Parasite?: Mistletoe for The California Holidays, Part 2 of 3

Super-Secret Trick to Evade a Kiss Under the Mistletoe: Mistletoe for the California Holidays, Part 3 of 3

Rain! Rain! Rain! But is it Enough to Water Plants?

During our ongoing drought in California, rainfall has become almost as exciting as a small earthquake. Failed rain forecasts seem ever more common, sometimes with less rain than predicted or no rain actually arriving. After so many disappointments, when I actually hear rain falling, I usually drop everything to rush outside in a state of semi-disbelief to witness the rain, just as I do when the first structural shaking from a little earthquake seems like it might be the start of a bigger earthquake.

For Californians who pay attention to the increased fire danger that results from statewide dry soils and low levels of moisture in plants and trees, and who are concerned about the numerous ecological and other impacts from drought, fall and winter rains are a hot topic. The first period of heavy rainfall is a cause for celebration; it provides decreased fire threat and many benefits to soils, trees, and plants, at least temporarily or until the next dry period.

Water-soluble soils salts accumulate from spring through fall in California’s Mediterranean-climate areas, or for a year or longer during droughts and in areas with low rainfall. Common sources of urban soil salts including fertilizers, minerals left behind from evaporated municipal irrigation water, and pet or wildlife urine. Salts tend to be concentrated in the first few inches to several inches of soil. Sufficient concentrations of salts cause stress to plants, are problematic for plant absorption of soil water, cause salt burn or brown dead leaf tips and margins, and if severe can kill plants and trees. Among many other reasons, sufficient annual rainfall is important for flushing salts deeper into soil where they won’t harm plants.

Small storms and brief or light fall-and-winter rainy periods might seem exciting, but they don’t provide much water to plants and soil. Irrigation calculations can be complex and technical depending on plant species, seasonal temperatures, and other factors. Most lawns and turfgrasses need about 1/3-inch or less water per week during cool-to-cold weather, and 1 to 2 inches of water per week during warm-to-hot weather.

Many of our brief fall-and-winter rainstorms in California Mediterranean-climate areas produce anywhere from about 1/20 of an inch of water to a third or half-an-inch of water. For comparison, sprinkler heads put out about 4/10-inch of water (for water-conserving sprinklers) to 1.5 inches or more per hour. This means that a light rainstorm over a few hours, or a heavy shorter rainy period that puts out 1/10 to 1/2 inch of water, is approximately the equivalent of running many lawn sprinklers for about 5 to 30 minutes, and it may provide sufficient water for lawns and small plants for a few days to a week or longer. This is a broad generalization. You can easily measure actual water output in your yard by setting out small uniform containers, measuring water output after running sprinklers for a specific number of minutes, and averaging results for an overall estimate.

An inch of rainfall that infiltrates completely into soil will normally travel to a depth of a few or more inches for clay and clay-loam soils to several inches or even a foot or more in sandy soils and coarse, rocky soils. In compacted clay soils, 1/10 inch of rainfall may sit at the soil surface and partially evaporate when the sun comes out, or infiltrate to a mere fraction of an inch. Clay soils often absorb only a portion or a fraction of an inch of rainfall per hour, while sandy soils may absorb 2 inches or more per hour.

What does this mean for water availability to plants and plant benefit from short California rainstorms? Depending on many factors from soil type to runoff, it means that rainstorms providing about 1/10 to 1/2 an inch of water provide short-term water for lawns, small plants, and bedding plants, with some benefit to shrubs and trees but not sufficient water to meet needs for trees and larger plants, to refresh water reserves in soil, to flush salts from upper soil, or even to meet water needs for lawns and small plants for more than a few days to a week.

During fall-and-winter periods in California with light and intermittent rainstorms, landscape plants may continue to need irrigation. Trees and large shrubs may still need deep watering every few weeks to few months. And unfortunately, fire danger, in both urban and wildland areas, may persist.

GardenZeus has customized growing information by plant and zip code. To get started, enter your zip code here.

Other articles of interest include:

California Gardening During Rainstorms: Flush Salts and Avoid Soil Compaction

Benefits of Rain for California Gardeners

Fire Armageddon is an Annual Event in California

When Are My Pomegranates Ripe?: Harvest Tips for Home-Grown Pomegranates

by Ann Clary and C. Darren Butler

GardenZeus receives commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Are you eyeing your fruit-laden pomegranate tree wondering when to harvest? Lucky you – that is, if you know how to time harvest when pomegranates are ripe but before critters get them! As pomegranates approach ripeness, consider wrapping metal-wire mesh around them on the tree to prevent feeding by birds, rats, and other critters.

Many common fruits, such as apples, bananas, and most stone fruits, are climacteric, meaning that they release ethylene during a ripening period, so they ripen naturally away from the tree after harvest. Pomegranates are non-climacteric; they do not continue to ripen after harvest, so it’s important to pick the fruits only after they are ripe.

Pomegranates are generally ready for harvest about 6 to 7 months after blossoming. Commercial growers track timelines, know fruit-color indicators for their varieties, and test the fruit for acidity and juice color. Home gardeners may need trial and error over a few years to get to know indicators of ripeness for your specific pomegranate variety(s).

Tips for checking ripeness of pomegranates:

Sampling. When indicators below suggest ripeness, harvest and check a single fruit. For larger yields and heavily laden trees, compare color and other aspects of fruits. Harvest fruits in groups as they ripen, and sample more than one fruit if necessary over time before harvesting.

Fruit Weight. If you heft pomegranates in your hand over weeks as they begin to mature, you’ll notice a difference in weight. Pomegranates become juicier and heavier as they ripen. Pomegranate tree branches, usually the outer and newer branches, are often pulled lower by increased weight as fruits ripen.

Color. Color is an indicator of pomegranate ripeness but varies by cultivar. Most varieties are bright-red or deep-red to crimson without traces of green when ripe. Get to know your variety(s) by checking the skin color as you sample fruits.

pomegranate green shoulders

Pomegranate with green shoulders

 

Shape. As pomegranates ripen, the seed and arils (seed sacks or coverings) will swell. Ripe pomegranates turn from round to slightly angular, with the sides becoming more square and the stem and blossom ends becoming flatter.

Skin Texture and Splitting. Skin on pomegranate fruits shifts from being smooth and hard to slightly rough and softer as they ripen. Skin on ripe fruits should be easy to scratch with a fingernail. Mature fruits often crack as arils swell or in response to rain and high humidity. Mature fruits with any skin cracking are usually ready for harvest. When the skins of multiple fruits on a single tree are cracked, most or all fruits are usually ready for harvest.

pomegranates ripe

Ripe pomegranates with splitting skin

 

Sound When Tapped.  Like color, sound when tapped is a tricky indicator. When tapped, a ripe pomegranate sounds different than an immature fruit. For comparison, tap your immature and maturing fruits occasionally and listen for changes as they ripen. A ripe fruit may sound somewhat tinny or hollow, or may have a slightly metallic sound.

Birds and Critters. Never underestimate the senses of garden animals! When birds and other critters start sampling the pomegranates, the fruit is usually ready or almost ready for harvest. For those who have plenty of fruit or lack the time to check fruits as they mature, this is GardenZeus expert Darren Butler’s lazy method for timing pomegranate harvest. Simply wait until a few fruits are damaged by bird pecking or splitting, then sample a fruit and harvest most fruits if the sample is ripe, perhaps leaving obviously less-mature fruits for another few weeks or until the birds take further interest.

Harvesting tips.  Cut pomegranate fruits using pruning shears at the stem close to the fruit. Avoid using twist/yank-and-pull method, which may damage fruits or tree branches.

Storage. Uninjured pomegranates may last 1 to 3 weeks when stored in a cool, dry place, and will store for about 2 months with normal refrigeration. Fruits may last longer under optimal storage conditions of about 41 to 45°F with high humidity. Split fruits will not store well and should be eaten right away. Juice and arils can be frozen for up to one year.

GardenZeus has customized growing information by plant and zip code. Don’t know your GardenZeus zone? Click here. 

Other articles of interest:

GardenZeus Quick Tips: Harvesting Lemons

Are Your Oranges Ripe? Or Not

 

California Color Flower Seed Mix for Vibrant Native Wildflowers

GardenZeus receives commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

If you’ve never grown California native wildflowers, the California Color Flower Seed Mix from Botanical Interest is a perfect way to start. It provides an inexpensive, time-efficient, low-water-use, low-maintenance option for winter and spring color. It’s especially useful for mass planting, and for difficult areas such as hillsides and non-irrigated areas. Flowers can also be grown in margins, raised beds, or as low-water borders for vegetable gardens. Some or many of the 16 popular species may fail to germinate or thrive in any given soil, microclimate, or environment, but with many resilient, reliable species included, at least a few to several should do well in any Southern California area.

Many California native landscape plants don’t tolerate soil fertility or frequent watering, and suffer or die in the rich, moist, microbially active soils needed for vegetable gardens and non-native ornamentals. This native wildflowers mix is ideal for well-drained, drier, average soils, from moderately acidic to neutral or slightly alkaline.

In mild winter areas, plant seeds directly outdoors from fall through early spring. Irrigate planting areas beginning 2 or more weeks ahead to germinate and remove weed seedlings. Plant seeds directly into moist or pre-irrigated soil, or before rainy periods. Scatter seeds at the rate of about one seed every few inches, or about 10 to 20 seeds per square foot. Rake seeds in gently, or cover with a thin layer of 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch of fine soil or sand. Mist or water gently to avoid washing away seeds, about once every other day before germination, and often enough to keep soil moist for the first few weeks weeks after planting and until seedlings have multiple leaves.

In addition to providing exuberant color starting about 50 to 75 days after germination, these native wildflowers will feed native and beneficial insects, and may attract pollinators if planted near vegetable gardens. Be forewarned that if allowed to go to seed, flower varieties may reseed themselves, sometimes in nearby areas or even at a distance from the original plantings.

All of the wildflowers included can be grown as annuals; some may re-bloom or persist as perennials in suitable climates and with proper care. While more drought-tolerant than most non-native species, these wildflowers may need supplemental water every 1 to 3 weeks while establishing, especially in sandy soils or during warm-to-hot weather. After they are established, during dry periods within the first several months to a year after planting, many of these wildflowers will perform best with supplemental water about once every 4 to 8 weeks in clay soils or every 2 to 4 weeks in sandy soils during cool weather, and about every 2 to 3 weeks in clay soils and 1 to 2 weeks in sandy soils during warm-to-hot weather.

If you’re used to gardening or landscaping with non-native ornamentals and flowers, you may be surprised how effortless and rewarding it can be to grow these native wildflowers. Enjoy!

GardenZeus has customized growing information by plant and zip code. To get started, enter your zip code here.

Other articles of interest relating to California wildflowers include:

Planting and Growing California Poppy

California Poppy: Tips and Precautions for Care and Watering

Sky Lupine: A Lovely California Native Wildflower

 

Fire Armageddon is an Annual Event in California

Above pictures burned native manzanita stems following wildfire

 

As I write this article, vast areas of California are engulfed in flames. Devastation from active California fires exceeds what can even reasonably be called tragedy. It is armageddon where the fires burn, as it was last year with fire elsewhere in California. Fire armageddon has become an annual and sometimes ongoing event in California as climate change, drought and low fuel moisture, rapidly accumulating fuels from invasive annual weeds and other exotic plants, loss of ecological resilience in wild areas, and other factors support ideal conditions for vast infernos.

The Camp Fire in Butte County has been confirmed as the most-destructive fire in modern California history, and also appears likely to be confirmed as by far the deadliest as measured in loss of human life. The second-most-destructive fire in modern California history was the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Napa and Sonoma Counties. As of today, 5 of the 10 most-destructive fires in California’s history as officially measured by CalFire occurred within the past 2 years.

The Woolsey Fire in Southern California was at 10% containment after a few days, burning actively in much of the territory between Los Angeles City and Ventura County, with at least 83,000 acres burned, over 200,000 people evacuated, hundreds of structures and homes destroyed, unknown loss of human life, vast loss of wildlife, massive plant/tree and ecological destruction, and with direct ongoing threat to both wild and populated areas.

Beyond the heartbreaking human stories and losses, the impact of these fires extends to the annihilation of animal and plant lives and populations. These fires are an environmental tragedy, part of the long process of catastrophe that accompanies widespread ecological destruction and planetwide climate change. The release of carbon and pollutants into the atmosphere from these fires supports the cycle of further catastrophes across the globe. When these fires are extinguished, the larger environmental conditions, cycles, and issues that caused them will remain, and are in need of attention and unified action if we are to prevent or even meaningfully reduce annual fire armageddon in California.

Our thoughts and hearts are with those whose lives and homes have been devastated. Many of us living in and near Los Angeles who aren’t directly threatened have friends, loved ones, colleagues, acquaintances, and neighbors who live in affected areas, have been evacuated, and may have lost homes.

Many opportunities are available for immediate support of disaster-relief efforts. I encourage all who read this to look at the reality of what is occurring, to recognize that this is happening to all of us and that over time such disasters may directly impact each of us in turn, and to help in whatever way you are able or as you are called.

This article will be discussed in the GardenZeus Southern California Facebook Group.

4 Cool Season Vegetables Ideal for Containers

by Ann Clary and C. Darren Butler

GardenZeus receives commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Gardeners often think of growing vegetables in containers, but may not think of growing cool season vegetables in containers through fall and winter. In many mild-winter areas of California, containers are an excellent way to grow small amounts of cool season vegetables: without the summer heat, containers don’t require constant watering and they can be moved to provide the best sun exposure, with a full sun southern or western exposure best from fall through late winter and a southern or southeastern exposure best from late winter through late spring.

Here are four cool season vegetables with variety recommendations that make excellent container plants:

Arugula: Roquette Wild  Arugula is a GardenZeus favorite. Its strong flavor and narrow leaves make it an ideal addition to salads and pizzas. Arugula is among the easiest and fastest-growing garden greens. When soil moisture is reasonably consistent and temperatures are seldom above about 70° F, it tolerates many otherwise adverse conditions. Quick to germinate, arugula leaves are ready for harvest in 30 days. For complete information on growing arugula, click here.

Wild arugula

Wild arugula

 

Carrot: Round of Paris carrots are fabulous: the sweet, tender flavor makes them ideal for roasting and their short roots make them great for containers. Carrots produce the highest-quality, most-tender roots in soil temperatures of about 60 to 70° F.  Ready for harvest about 65 days after germination. For complete information on growing carrots, click here.

Paris market type carrots

Paris market type carrots

 

Garlic: Softneck garlic only is normally planted during fall in warm-winter California areas. For best yields, avoid planting garlic sold at markets or as food because of higher likelihood for plant disease and possible treatment to inhibit sprouting. Garlic grows and bulbs best in full sun during cool weather of about 50°F to 75°F. Garlic has a long growing season, usually about 5 – 8 months depending on variety and growing conditions. For complete information on growing garlic, click here.

softneck garlic

Softneck garlic does not have a central stem

 

Radish: GardenZeus highly recommends French Breakfast Radish. With red tops and white tips, these lovely radishes have a mild flavor. Great for eating alone or slicing for salads. Radishes are generally unfussy and thrive in any cool, sunny area with reasonably loose and fertile soil. They are easy to germinate, and reach harvest size in approximately 28 days. For complete information on growing radish, click here.

French Breakfast Radishes

French Breakfast Radishes

 

Select one of the root vegetables, carrot, radish or garlic, then add arugula to fill in the spaces. Arugula, radish and carrot all have a relatively short time to harvest, while garlic is longer. Simply leave your garlic plants in the containers through the spring and add warm season flowers or vegetables.

All four vegetables prefer uniformly moist but not wet soil; none is drought tolerant. Do not allow soil to dry between waterings.

GardenZeus has customized growing information by plant and zip code. To get started, enter your zip code here.

GardenZeus Tips for Container Vegetable Gardening

 

Spacing and Seasonal Timelines for California Poppy (Eschscholzia california)

Seeds can be scattered at the rate of one seed every 2-3 inches or about 20 seeds per square foot, ideally just before fall or winter rainy periods. Leave seeds at the soil surface undisturbed, or rake gently into soil. While counter-intuitive for many gardeners, it’s best not to cover California Poppy seeds with soil. When irrigation or rainfall might be forceful enough to disturb or wash away seeds, cover with a thin layer of about 1/16-to-1/8-inch fine soil or sand.

When planted densely or with vigorous germination, plants may remain smaller in a dense mat and often won’t reach maximum size or bloom optimally. Thin as seedlings or space seeds about 4-6 inches and thin as seedlings for final spacing of 8-12 inches between plants for optimal size and blooming.

Under suitable environmental conditions, California Poppy seeds normally germinate in about 8-30 days, longer during cold weather. For more information, see Planting and Growing California Poppy (Eschscholzia california).

California Poppy normally begins blooming about 55-75 days after germination, or potentially longer during cold weather.When cut back or deadheaded after blooming, plants may re-bloom during periods of cool-to-warm weather or until spring or summer heat waves arrive. California Poppy can bloom almost year-round in mild-winter, mild-summer areas. For tips about deadheading and re-blooming, see California Poppy: Tips and Precautions for Care and Watering.

For more information on growing California Poppy, see:

Planting and Growing California Poppy (Eschscholzia california)

California Poppy: Tips and Precautions for Care and Watering

Soil and Microclimate Tips for California Poppy (Eschscholzia california)

 

 

Soil and Microclimate Tips for California Poppy (Eschscholzia california)

California Poppy needs full sun during cool-to-warm weather. It is perennial, but also grows as an annual in gardens and in wild areas where summer temperatures exceed about 90°F for long periods or where winter temperatures drop below about 15° to 20°F. It grows and yields best at daytime temperatures of about 55° to 80°F.

Established plants may die back or go dormant during summer heat. In hot-summer areas, California Poppy suffers and may be killed by prolonged periods at temperatures of 90°F or higher. In areas where plants might survive the summer, they are often cut back severely, to stubs of about 1 inch, after going dormant.

California Poppy tolerates frost to about 20°F or below. Established perennial plants may tolerate cold snaps to 15°F or below.

Good drainage is essential for growing California Poppy. It is sensitive to overwatering and wet soils; also to coarse or sandy soils that dry quickly. It prefers well-drained clay and loamy soils but tolerates and often thrives in poor or infertile soils provided that they drain well (such as clay soil on hillsides), and tolerates a wide range of soil pH from about 5.2 to 8.3, with an ideal pH of about 6.5 to 7.5. It may germinate poorly, underperform, and need more-frequent watering in coarse and sandy soils.

Many California native landscape plants don’t tolerate soil fertility, and suffer or die in the rich, microbially active soils needed for vegetable gardens. California Poppy is partially an exception; it makes a reasonable companion in garden borders that receive less water, or interplanted with established non-native plants in well-drained soils where watering is infrequent. While normally best kept to drier soils, it can be grown among or beside vegetables and perennials, especially in raised beds and soils that drain well. When grown in rich soils that remain constantly wet or moist, California Poppy tends to suffer from root rots and other diseases. It may produce more vegetative growth and fewer or no flowers in fertile soils, especially those that are high in nitrogen.

GardenZeus has customized growing information by plant and zip code. To get started, enter your zip code here.

For more information on growing California Poppy, see:

Planting and Growing California Poppy (Eschscholzia california)

California Poppy: Tips and Precautions for Care and Watering

Spacing and Seasonal Timelines for California Poppy (Eschscholzia california)

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