If you don’t already know, the best time to plant in Northern California is during the fall – not during the spring. It’s best to get the plants in the ground just before the winter rains start so that they can root in and get the water they need. The plants can then focus on the roots and not on trying to leaf out or flower. Our winters are mild in Northern California – the ground isn’t frozen. If you put your little babies into the ground during spring, they can fry. Before you know the hot sun is beating down and the plant is trying to leaf out and flower and the roots are not established – so the plant’s growth is stunted.
I was reminded of this when I received my newsletter from the San Francisco Botanical Garden: As curator Don Mahoney says:
Autumn is planting season, especially for California native plants. In our Mediterranean climate almost 100% of our rain falls between October and May, which means our native species are adapted to grow in the wintertime. By planting in the fall, Mediterranean climate plants are able to become well established before the spring rains end and often can get by with no supplemental water the following summer. This is particularly important for shrubs and trees, like most manzanitas, Ceanothus, and Fremontodendron that tend to develop root problems from summer watering. More of these plants are lost to overwatering than to underwatering if they are established in a garden.
Also, check out the San Francisco Botanical Gardens’ website for beautiful prints and, especially, upcoming workshops. I want to go if I can can fit it in, although I’m quite busy planting these days because it’s fall.