Friday, February 11, 2011

Dead Foliage? Leaf It Alone!


When this...


Becomes this...

Don't be too quick to prune out the dead stuff this time of year. Lurking below all that dead foliage on geraniums, pelargoniums, alstroemeria and hydrangeas, there may be this...


New growth, emanating from near the base.

It's still winter; more frosts are possible. In Sacramento, there's a 10% chance of frost until March 23. And that dead foliage offers some protection to that new growth from freezing temperatures.

So, although the temptation is great to "tidy up" in February, give those plants a chance, even if you don't see new growth right now. Some perennials won't sprout new growth until mid-spring.

And "plant insurance" for tender perennials can be purchased in late summer-early fall. 


Start cuttings of those plants and keep them in a warm, well-lit area until planting time the following spring. Then, if that perennial in the ground does bite the dust, you have a quick replacement. 

A good book on the subject is The American Horticulture Society's Plant Propagation book.

Frost date range (10% chance) for select California locations:
Bakersfield: Nov. 20-Mar. 3
Chico: Oct. 30-Apr. 23
Eureka: Nov. 15-Mar. 14
Fresno: Nov. 7-Apr. 1
Lakeport: Oct. 10-May 10
Livermore: Nov. 3-Apr. 27
Lodi: Nov. 2-Mar. 31
Los Angeles: Jan. 2-Jan. 3
Marysville: Nov. 14-Mar. 16
Modesto: Nov. 10-Mar. 20
Napa: Nov. 9-Apr. 20
Nevada City: Sept. 24-June 4
Placerville: Oct. 22-May 18
Sacramento: Nov. 14-Mar. 23
San Francisco: Dec. 1-Feb. 9
San Jose: Nov. 23-Feb. 19
Santa Rosa: Nov. 5-May 1
Sonora: Oct. 26-May 10
Stockton: Nov. 5-Mar. 30
Truckee: July 31-July 27
Ukiah: Oct. 25-Apr. 29
Vacaville: Nov. 4-Apr. 24
Willows: Nov. 8-Apr. 23
Winters: Nov. 13-Mar. 27
Woodland: Nov. 5-Apr. 1

And for those that feel lucky, the frost date range when there is a 50-50 chance of freezing temperatures:

Bakersfield: Dec. 11-Jan. 31
Chico: Nov. 15-Mar. 20
Davis: Nov. 24-Mar. 4
Eureka: Dec. 15-Jan. 30
Fresno: Nov 25-Feb. 22
Lakeport: Nov. 2-Apr. 20
Livermore: Nov. 13-Mar. 29
Lodi: Nov. 16-Mar. 6
Los Angeles: rare
Marysville: Dec. 2-Feb. 9
Modesto: Nov. 29-Feb. 21
Napa: Nov. 26-Mar. 20
Nevada City: Oct. 15-May 17
Placerville: Nov. 6-Apr. 25
Sacramento: Dec 1-Feb. 14
San Francisco: Jan. 5-Jan. 8
San Jose: Dec 25-Jan. 22
Santa Rosa: Nov. 19-Mar. 25
Sonora: Nov. 12-Apr. 14
Stockton:Nov. 22-Mar. 1
Truckee: Aug. 16-July 11
Ukiah: Nov. 10-Apr. 3
Vacaville: Nov. 18-Mar. 19
Willows: Nov. 23-Mar. 14
Winters: Nov. 27-Feb. 17
Woodland: Nov. 26-Feb. 28

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