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

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)

California Poppy: Tips and Precautions for Care and Watering

California Poppy (Eschscholzia california) is among the most care-free and lovely California-native flowering plants, and among the easiest to cultivate in urban landscapes. See Planting and Growing California Poppy (Eschscholzia california) for more info about planting, environmental needs, and benefits it provides.

Watering: The best method for watering California Poppy is generally drip irrigation, especially in heavy soils, which allows for infiltration of water over time. Consider installing drip irrigation before planting, which can save hassle and damage to plants later on. California Poppies can also be hand-watered. Frequent sprinkler or overhead watering may encourage disease.

Broadcast or sow seeds into moist or pre-irrigated soil. California Poppy can become extremely drought-tolerant once established in clay and loamy soils, after several months to a year when grown as a perennial, but is less so than some gardeners might expect when grown as an annual. It doesn’t establish as well in coarse and sandy soils, and more frequent watering may be needed. In warm-winter areas, California Poppy may need no supplemental water from fall through spring when rainfall is sufficient.

During dry periods within the first several months to a year after planting, California Poppy performs best with supplemental water about once every 4 to 8 weeks in clay soils during cool weather, and about every 2 weeks in clay soils during warm-to-hot weather. In sandy soils, California Poppy may need supplemental water about every 2 to 4 weeks during cool weather, and about every 1 to 2 weeks during warm-to-hot weather. Seedlings and younger plants may need more-frequent watering.

Care, maintenance, and tips:  Minimize fertilization for California Poppy. Plants perform well in most soils provided that drainage is sufficient.

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

Walking on soil or working near California Poppy plants may compact soil and encourage diseases, especially when soil is wet after irrigation or rain.

California Poppy blooms are known for closing at night, on cloudy days, and before or during rain.

California Poppies don’t make good cut flowers. They lose their petals quickly after flowers are cut. For a short-lived bouquet, you can try harvesting mature buds before they first open.

During cool-to-warm weather after plants have completed bloom cycles, provide supplemental water and deadhead to encourage reblooming. Deadheading also provides a cleaner look that accentuates the attractive foliage, and prevents seeds from developing if you don’t want California Poppy to spread throughout your landscape (see below). When cut back or deadheaded after blooming, California Poppy can bloom almost year-round in mild-winter, mild-summer areas.

In hot-summer areas, California Poppy plants will die or die back during prolonged periods at temperatures above about 90°F. Plants may go dormant in response to summer heat. In areas where plants might survive, they are often cut back severely, to stubs of about 1 inch, after going dormant.

Reseeding: California Poppy seedpods often burst open forcefully and scatter seeds to a surprising distance. Seeds tend to move downhill with waterflow or wind, and get caught in channels and nooks here and there. It seems to exhaust every possible complaint about plants if we consider a lovely, native flower like California Poppy to be potentially invasive, but remember that unless spent blooms or seed pods are removed, particularly in dry and non-irrigated areas, plants will likely re-seed themselves, sometimes in surprising locations or areas where you might not want them.

Scattered seeds often sprout with fall or winter rains. Both original native strains and other varieties may reseed or naturalize. Varieties bred for color will often revert back to orange-yellow or yellow.

Weed seeds also often sprout with fall and winter rains. If you want California Poppy to naturalize and reseed itself year after year, be diligent in removing weeds and weed grasses every year before they go to seed to minimize competition and prevent buildup of a bank of weed seeds in your soil.

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)

Soil and Microclimate Tips for California Poppy (Eschscholzia california)

Spacing and Seasonal Timelines for California Poppy (Eschscholzia california)

 

Cauliflower: 6 Tips for Success

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

Although cauliflower has a reputation as being one of the more difficult vegetables to grow and  is certainly vulnerable to both hot and cold temperature extremes, it can be grown successfully. GardenZeus expert Darren Butler recommends that you give it a try, despite its reputation for difficulty. The following are his tips for succeeding with cauliflower:

1) Select appropriate varieties. If you have had poor results with cauliflower, try varieties that tolerate both heat and cold, such as the hybrid Casper.

2) Grow cauliflower in rich, fertile soil. Brassicas are moderate to heavy feeders and need sufficient macronutrients and micronutrients.

3) Timing: Start consider starting seeds indoors in ideal germinating conditions for later transplant outdoors during ideal growing conditions.

4) Transplanting tips: Transplant seedlings during the first 5 to 10 weeks while they are still growing actively; don’t let them sit in their cells or small pots long enough that they become rootbound and senescent. Transplant cauliflower deeper than seedlings were in cells or pots to protect the root crown.

5) Start seeds and grow transplants in fertile, living, consistently moist soil that is loose and friable to at least 6 to 12 inches in depth. Grow in full sun during cool weather. Provide shade during unseasonable heat waves.

6) Plant cauliflower (and other brassicas) away from most other garden vegetables and most other plants in general. Brassicas do not form the relationships with the mycorrhizal fungi that are so helpful to many garden vegetables. The miraculous work of micorrhizae for garden vegetables that you may have heard or learned about might be at the expense of your cauliflower and other brassicas. Mycorrhizae may be capable of colonizing brassicas and “stealing” nitrogen from them to provide it to other garden vegetables. GardenZeus expert Darren Butler generally recommends that cauliflower and other brassicas be grown separately and at a distance of at least several feet from other vegetables, with 20 to 30 feet or more being ideal.

Single dig or double dig soil to loosen to a depth of at least 12 inches, remove stones and obstructions, and add compost or well-rotted organic matter shortly before planting cauliflower.

GardenZeus recommends planting cauliflower from purchased transplants, especially when attempting to grow it for the first time or if you have not succeeded previously with cauliflower, but it’s critical to be sure that varieties are appropriate for your growing conditions (nurseries might not always offer appropriate varieties for their local areas) and to check that individual plants are not diseased, rootbound, or senescent.

When transplanting, spread roots of seedlings gently outward and downward to encourage a deep, spreading root system. While some experts recommend tearing off excess roots at transplanting, at GardenZeus, we prefer to minimize damage to seedling roots during transplant. Plant slightly deeper than the level at which starts were in packs or pots, and tamp soil gently. Water immediately after transplanting.

Start cauliflower seeds indoors about 4 to 8 weeks before transplants are needed. Starts may need to be transferred to larger pots or growing containers at least once before being transplanted outdoors, or germinate seeds from the beginning in larger 3-to-4-inch planting pots.

Broadcast seeds or plant individually directly outdoors during appropriately cool weather. Plant seeds about ¼-inch deep. While maturing cauliflower plants need temperatures in the 60s to form the best curds, seeds germinate best at warmer temperatures of 70° to 85° F, and they have a long seedling period of about 4 to 10 weeks. Seeds must be kept moist for germination, which may require misting or watering with a gentle, fine spray 2 or more times per day.

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

GardenZeus has detailed growing instructions for many vegetables, herbs and annuals ideal for fall planting in Southern California.  For ideas see:

Growing Garlic in the California Home Garden

How are Growing Carrots Like Riding a Bike?

Getting Started With California Poppy

Planting and Growing California Poppy (Eschscholzia california)

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

Many California native plants that are adapted or bred for urban landscapes have a reputation for being fussy with special needs, or being difficult to grow. California Poppy is the opposite. It requires little more than scattering seeds from fall through late winter or early spring in warm-winter California areas; and occasional watering, especially during warm-to-hot weather when grown as an annual, or in coarse or sandy soils.

California Poppy is among the very best options, native or otherwise, for lovely, resilient, and somewhat-drought-tolerant bedding flowers and mass plantings in temperate and mild-winter California areas. It becomes extremely drought-tolerant after establishing a thick taproot of several inches or longer, most reliably in cool areas, such as in California coastal areas and in mild temperate-climate areas with cool summers.

California Poppy thrives in almost any well-drained soil, and is a long-time reliable solution in Mediterranean climates for color on hillsides and in other difficult areas. It attracts and provides food for various native and non-native insects and pollinators. It can bloom almost year-round in mild-winter, mild-summer areas.

Cultural needs and environmental conditions: 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 blooms best at daytime temperatures of about 55° to 80°F. Established plants may die back or go dormant during summer heat.

Good drainage is essential for growing California Poppy. 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. See Soil and Microclimate Tips for California Poppy (Eschscholzia california) for more information.

Planning and preparation: California Poppy has two subspecies: 1) Eschscholzia californica californica, with the well-known yellow-orange blooms; and 2) Eschscholzia californica mexicana, or Mexican Gold Poppy, which blooms yellow, with a native range primarily in the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. Varieties are available in a range of colors, with mixes available including Confetti (orange, white, pink, red, and yellow single blooms); Mission Bells (rose, red, white, orange, and yellow double and semi-double ruffled blooms); and Spring Melody Blend (rose, red, white, orange, and yellow double and semi-double blooms). California Color Flower Mix includes California Poppy and many other native wildflowers.

The best planting season for California Poppy is fall through late winter or early spring in most of California. The winter growing season coincides with the least sunlight and shortest days. Be sure to plant California Poppy seeds in an area that will receive full sun throughout the winter. Consider planting multiple rounds of seeds for staggered germination and flowering, especially early or late in the season when California Poppy is vulnerable to heat and/or cold. Original and native strains may naturally germinate more variably and over a longer period, a helpful trait for the species’ survival in the wild, but which also tends to result in a variable or scattered blooming.

California Poppy plants may form dense mats or grow in more upright form. They normally grow from about several inches in height to about 12 or 14 inches tall, but under ideal conditions with ample spacing can grow to about 2 feet tall.

Germination and planting: California Poppy may be sold in nurseries as seedlings but dislikes roots disturbances and does not transplant well. Broadcast or sow seeds directly outdoors into moist, pre-irrgated soil or directly before fall/winter rainy periods.

Seeds can be scattered at the rate of one seed every 2-3 inches or about 20 seeds per square foot. 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. Be cautious with irrigating seeds; hand watering or flooding may wash away seeds or move them to lower areas and channels. 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.

Seeds germinate most reliably at cool-to-warm temperatures of about 60° to 70°F, and may take up to 30 days or longer to germinate at colder temperatures. Misting or watering once or twice daily may improve or speed germination. Seeds planted into coarse or sandy soils may need watering daily for optimal germination, especially during warm weather. Seedlings need sufficient moisture during the first few weeks after germination.

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.

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:

California Poppy: Tips and Precautions for Care and Watering

Soil and Microclimate Tips for California Poppy (Eschscholzia california)

Spacing and Seasonal Timelines for California Poppy (Eschscholzia california)

10 October Garden Tasks

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

October is an ideal month to plant cool-season vegetables, herbs and annuals in Southern California’s areas of coastal influence. It’s an uncertain month for planting in inland areas due to possible further heat waves, but efforts to plant during cool-to-warm weather are often rewarded, especially when gardeners are able to monitor carefully and provide extra water and shade during any late heat waves. Regardless of what is on your fall planting list, place these 10 tasks on your gardening to-do list:

  • Irrigate new garden beds, wait 10 to 21 days prior to planting to flush weed seeds, and remove or till in weed seedlings.
  • Inspect and repair raised beds, garden structures, fencing, hose bibs, and drip or other irrigation systems. Install drip systems prior to planting.
  • In new beds or compacted soils, double-dig or loosen soil with a spading fork and remove stones and obstructions shortly before seeding new crops.
  • Amend soils prior to planting by surface dressing and/or gently working in compost, organic matter, manures, and other amendments.
  • Add organic amendments such as compost and composted manures to existing perennials, winter-blooming/bearing plants, and actively growing plants. Avoid fertilizing (especially with nitrogen) near perennials or trees that go dormant over winter.
  • Water trees, shrubs, perennials, and established annuals deeply and slowly between periods of rain. Many plants and trees may need watering only every few weeks to few months during cool weather.
  • Decrease sprinkler frequency to lawns and small bedding plants. Check city watering guidelines as they often change for fall.
  • Remove spent or expired vegetable and other plants and clean up organic yard waste to avoid rat harborage and minimize overwintering insect pests and microbial pathogens.
  • Replenish your compost pile with diseased-free/pest-free fallen leaves and organic yard waste from October cleanup and throughout autumn as plants and trees go dormant.
  • Refresh mulch to conserve soil water and inhibit weed growth during winter rains.
  • Inspect exteriors of homes and buildings to locate and repair any gaps or holes large enough for mice/rat entry including vents, eaves, and crawlspace entryways.

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

GardenZeus has detailed growing instructions for many vegetables, herbs and annuals ideal for fall planting in Southern California.  For ideas see:

Growing Garlic in the California Home Garden

How are Growing Carrots Like Riding a Bike?

Getting Started With California Poppy

Watermelon Radishes: Ideal Additions to a Holiday Platter

GardenZeus earns commissions on sales made through links in this article. There is no additional cost to you.

Mantanghong radishes are the most popular of the Chinese radishes, growing up to 3 inches in diameter with a mild, sweet flavor in approximately 65 days. With light green exteriors and fuchsia interiors, Mantanghong, or watermelon, radishes make visually spectacular additions to a appetizer or vegetable platter. To purchase Mantanghong radish seeds click here.

Microclimate. Radishes will generally thrive in any cool, sunny area with reasonably loose and fertile soil. They will grow in part shade, but produce smaller roots and a smaller harvest over a longer period of time when not in full sun, and if they do not receive enough sun, may fail to form bulbed roots.

Soil Preparation. Double-dig or loosen new, compacted, or clay soils and remove stones and obstructions to at least 6 to 12 inches shortly before planting. Radishes prefer reasonably fertile, uniform, well-drained soil with sufficient potassium and moderate-to-high organic matter to a depth of at least 12 inches (deeper for larger and carrot-shaped varieties), but will tolerate difficult soils. Preferred soil pH for radishes is 6.5 to 7.0. They may tolerate significantly more acidity and slight alkalinity, but may not produce quality roots quickly under these soil conditions.

Planting. Seed radishes directly: plant a set of 2 seeds 5 inches apart. Radish seeds germinate best at temperatures between about 60° and 85° F, and produce the best-quality roots at temperatures between about 50° and 65° F.

Amending. Use caution with application of nitrogen. GardenZeus recommends adding nitrogen in the form of diluted urea or a cup of chicken manure diluted in 4 gallons of water (half cup if fresh manure) and mixed thoroughly, applied as a soil drench once when radish sprouts are 1 to 2 inches tall.

Mulching. Use a quarter-inch fine mulch for small starts when they reach 2 to 3 inches in height; increase to half-an-inch or more of fine-to-medium mulch after plants are at least 4 to 5 inches tall.

Watering. Radishes need uniformly moist but not wet soil to produce good-quality edible roots. Radishes generally require regular watering, especially in sandy or light soils. In clay and heavy soils, water slowly over time to encourage infiltration to the full depth of the radishes’ roots. Do not allow soil to dry between waterings. Overwatering or wet soil may result in poor root formation, shallow rooting, and/or rotting or diseased roots. Underwatering or soil dryness between waterings, especially during the first several weeks after germination, may result in poor root formation, split roots, bolting, and tough or pithy roots.

Radishes make excellent container plants. See Container Gardening With Lettuce, Radishes and Carrots. 

Growing radishes are also an excellent way to improve your soil sustainably. See  Sustainable Gardening: Growing Radishes to Improve Soil.

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

 

By continuing, you are agreeing to the GardenZeus Affiliate Policy, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.