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January Is Dormant Season for Southern California Gardens

Plant and tree growth slows to a crawl or stops completely in January in Southern California gardens. Gardeners can take this opportunity to prune and plant, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities, including those in Santa Barbara County.

» Plant your living Christmas tree: Your living Christmas tree needs to be moved outdoors as soon as the holidays are over to increase its chances of survival. Find a location that can accommodate root growth, an abundance of needle droppings and a tree that can easily reach 20 to 30 feet in height.

» Plant shrubs: January is a good time to plant shrubs. First, dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball. The depth of the hole should be no deeper than the roots. If planting in heavy clay soil, dig a hole that is even larger so the surrounding soil is loose enough to enable roots to spread out. Add soil and amendments and pat down with your foot. Once the shrub is in place, add 3 to 4 inches of mulch from the base out to the drip line to hold in moisture and keep weeds from sprouting. Make sure you don’t allow the mulch to touch the trunk. To find the best shrubs to plant for your area, visit your local nursery.

» Plant and prune grape vines: Bare-root grape vines can be planted in January. The best grape variety to plant depends on the microclimate in which you live. Thompson Seedless and Emperor do best in hotter inland valleys. Concord and Perlette do well in milder climates. For existing grape vines, prune in winter to produce an abundance of fruit during summer.

» Plant and prune bare root fruit, rose and nut trees: Plenty of bare root trees are available at nurseries. These include apple, nectarine, plum, fig, almond, walnut and a variety of rose trees. Buying bare root trees in winter cost a lot less than buying full leafy trees in spring.

Your existing trees may need pruning. Remove branches to open the center of the tree to let in light. Remove any damaged branches and trim overgrowth. Be sure not to over-trim as this will spur branch and leaf growth and less fruit come spring.

» Plant more winter vegetables: You can plant more winter vegetables now, especially lettuce and other leafy greens. Beets, carrots and radishes also do well when planted in January.

» Recycle your cut Christmas tree: Many cities offer curbside Christmas tree collection during the two weeks following Christmas. Remove all ornaments, lights and tinsel, saw the tree in half and place the tree in your green materials recycling barrel. If you live in a city without curbside tree recycling, check with your waste collector for a drop-off location. Christmas trees are ground up and recycled into mulch that is then used in home and business landscaping.

Click here for more gardening tips.

— Diane Rumbaugh is a publicist representing Agromin.

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