February is usually the coldest and wettest month of the year in Southern California which begs the question… why would I want to garden? My first, personal answer is that I always love to garden, in particular to grow flowers for cutting, but if you are a little less devoted than I am, I have some good reasons and some better suggestions you might want to consider.
First, if you planted flowers before Christmas, your harvest should have begun and your work should be fun: pick, dead head and feed.
If you planted some of my favorites about which I have written before, Pansies and Anemone Mona Lisas, the harvest should be in full swing and the more you cut, the more they will bloom. If you overlook some blossoms, the spent flowers need to be dead headed. These plants are trying to create seeds and picking and dead heading frustrates them into trying even harder by producing more flowers.
Other favorites, Foxglove, Sweet Peas, Stock, Snaps, Freesias should all be just beginning to bloom.
Daffodils, Tulips and Iris are just around the corner. Cyclamen, not for cutting but a garden staple, should be going strong.
Flowering plants are hungry guys. I advocate feeding every two weeks and I recommend, without equivocation, Roger’s Garden Flower Food, a water soluble formula that we invented more than 40 years ago and have improved steadily. Look at the formulation. It’s high in Phosphoric Acid and Potash, the elements that help plants to bloom. Feeding is especially important if you grow your flowering plants in containers as I do.
More good news is that it is not too late to plant all of the aforementioned favorites, plus another one just arriving, Ranunculus Bloomingdales. While you might have planted Ranunculus bulbs in the fall, many of us forgot, but the hybridizers have rescued us by coming up with the Bloomingdales which were grown from seed and are available as blooming four inch plants. Bloomingdales offer the same colorful, large flowers, but on a studier, shorter plant. There is no better choice for instant color.
Additionally, it is not too late to plant Anemone Mona Lisas, Pansies, Violas, Foxglove, Larkspur, and Delphiniums. All of these can be grown in containers if you happen to have rotten clay soil like I do. Just chose your containers to match the mature size of the plants.
Another word about the Mona Lisas, in my opinion, these relatively new Anemones provide the best winter/early spring cut flower ever invented by nature and improved by man. The flowers come in white, pink, orchid, blue, red and, my favorite, a gorgeous wine color. In bouquets they look good in solid colors, but even better as a mix. Try mixing the red with the wine and orchid and stand back for fireworks. When cut just as they open, the flowers will last a week, but watch the water in the vase………they are thirsty and can drink themselves dry.
On the other hand, Pansies have been around since I was a boy, about 60 years ago, and while they are not generally thought of for cutting, a flat bowl filled with the cheerful faces of Pansies. Placed so that they can be best seen from above, will make you smile every time you see them.
We grow hundreds of these at the gardens of Casa Pacifica and, if you visit Roger’s Gardens regularly, you can usually find bunches of Anemone Mona Lisa for sale at very reasonable prices.
Back to working in the garden: rain brings out the snails and they like your cut flowers for dinner. While it is important to bait for snails regularly, rain dilutes the bait and energizes the snails so it is important to re-apply after a rain storm. Roger’s Gardens recommends Sluggo, which eradicates slimy snails without endangering pets.
If it’s raining, stay in doors, but if it’s even a little sunny, grab you clippers and cut some color for the house, gladden your soul and, above all, have some fun in the garden.