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Gardening with Evelyn: Marching into bloom

Evelyn Weidner

The deserts are bursting into the biggest bloom in years. The sun and the rain are visiting back and forth and your garden is ready to march right into bloom.

It’s a perfect time to visit your local garden center and browse the aisles to find just the right spring bloomers for your garden.

Best spring succulent bloomers: Vivid Orange Aloes take first prize. These easy succulents come in new longer blooming varieties like Cynthia Giddy — ask for her by name. There are aloes available for every size and place. Everyone knows the pot plants Kalenchoe, which come in almost every color. You can buy them in bloom all year but they are naturally spring and fall bloomers. Recycle your pot plant Kalenchoes to your garden and they will bloom again and again. There are many other Kalenchoes and they all bloom in spring and also in the fall.

Another star succulent you see right now is the almost blindingly bright Magenta Ice Plant. They all get lumped as Ice Plants but in reality there are many different species. The magenta beauty you see everywhere right now will also give some bloom all summer.

Ranunculus, Freesias and other bulbs start showing off in March. Easy tip: Plant your bulbs to come up in between other longer summer bloomers. Plant already-in-bloom plants now and next year they will multiply and reappear.

For shade, plant Begonias, Fuchsias and Impatiens to begin their spring into fall blooming cycle. Any of these that came through our winter should be given a spring trim right now and they’ll soon be back in bloom.

Camellias and Azaleas give year-after-year blooms and make great garden shrubs. Roses all of a sudden are full of flowers and waiting to be cut.

Warning: When looking on the Internet for spring blooming plants be sure you look at California or southwestern sites. Some of the prettiest bloomers you see online need a cold winter to bloom. We San Diegans think it is cold when temperatures go into the 40s. Many eastern plants need real cold with temperatures below freezing to bloom successfully.

The best Begonia is still that great performer called Dragon Wings — takes shade or sun and gets big and beautiful. Next come all of the pretty and easy Solenia Begonias. Hint: Put your potted combinations under a hanging basket and your water does double duty.

Wait — what about all those insects that come along with spring? Aphids and Thrips and mildew too. Your rose leaves are being chewed up by something and soon the caterpillars will arrive.

What’s a person to do? Answer: A strong blasting spray of water is your first line of defense and it will water your plants too. There are organic and traditional products now available for almost every garden pest. The secret for success is to attack before the pests get out of control. Did you know that you have a quick mildew spray right in your own refrigerator? One part nonfat milk to 9 parts water — no residual effect but quick and cheap. Hit the mildew quickly and then get a longer lasting mildew product for real control. Accept that a few garden pests will always be around to keep us humble

Enjoy watching spring march into bloom because we all need some extra beauty in our lives.


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