Cooler days, and more importantly nippy nights, are on their way. Long, chilly nights allow the soil to cool down, too. Summer plants begin to slow down. Don’t worry, however, there are plenty of annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees that are just coming into their own this season. In contrast to the regular cooling trend, this month may also bring a few days and nights of warm and intensely drying Santa Ana winds. There are some steps to take that may protect your trees and plants from potentially devastating damage. So here’s a short list of possible tasks and other chores to look to in the coming weeks.
Experience has shown that planting into the warm soil of late summer and fall provides many kinds of plants the environment they need to get well established before the cool-down.
Annual flowers: Calendula, dianthus, lobelia, pansy, schizanthus, snapdragon, sweet pea, stock, viola, hollyhocks, and larkspur. And veggies like: beet Brussels sprout, cabbage, carrot, fava bean, kale, lettuce, pak choi, pea, radish, spinach, and Swiss chard.
Perennials: Japanese anemone (Anemone X hybrida), blanket flower (Gaillardia grandiflora), Gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii), cape fuchsia (Phygelius aequalis and P. capensis), asters, coreopsis (Coreopsis grandiflora), daylilies (Hemerocallis), and sages (Salviaspecies).
California natives: California fuchsia (Epilobium californicum), western columbine (Aquilegia Formosa), seaside daisy (Erigeron glaucus), monkey flower (Mimulus species and hybrids), tree mallow (Lavatera assurgentiflora).
Spring-flowering bulbs: baboon flower (Babiana), daffodil (Narcissus), amaryllis (Hippeastrum), snowflake (Leucojum aestivum), grape hyacinth (Muscari), flame freesia (Tritonia crocata), and Watsonia. And plant garlic cloves now for early summer harvest—the larger the segment you plant, the larger the bulb you will reap.
Many of these species have grown a long season and now is the time to divide and multiply them so that they grow vigorously for the next few years. Just a few of the candidates are agapanthus, coreopsis, daylilies, penstemon, and Shasta daisies. Begin by digging up the rhizomes, keeping as many of the roots intact as you can. Shake off most of the soil so you can see the branching patterns. Separate single branches or those with only one or two side shoots discarding any old, shrunken pieces without a good set of leaves emerging from the growing ends. It’s a good idea to reduce the foliage some, too. Cut off about half of the leaves and remove any older, yellowing ones on the outer edges of the fan. Replant immediately.
Minimize Effects of Santa Ana Winds
They are hot. They are dry and they are stronger than most air movement that flows over the landscape. All good reasons to do what can be done to minimize any damage they can cause.
Prune and thin out trees and shrubs to let the wind flow through. Top-heavy trees are more likely to lose limbs or even come down.
Cluster potted plants together to shelter each other and reduce evaporative loss.
If winds are predicted, be sure the garden is well-watered, especially container plants. All of them are un-used to the sudden demand to keep above-ground parts hydrated.