Nurseries and garden centers are starting to get supplies of flowering annuals.  Take advantage of early sales, but wait until at least mid-March to plant them to avoid a possible late freeze.  Warm weather bulbs such as caladiums should not be planted until early April as the soil warms.  They can rot if the soil is too cool and moist.

There are different theories about how long winter hangs around.  Some say we can have a freeze anytime up to Easter, which this year is April 1.  Others say that the danger of a killing frost is past once the mesquite tree puts on new leaves.  For King William area gardeners, one to watch is in the side garden at 735 E. Guenther St.  Nothing is as unpredictable as the weather.  Take note and plant accordingly. 

Pointsettias have begun to appear for sale.  They provide color for the holidays and for a time after.  Crotons are another plant to consider for indoor color over the winter and beyond. They can last for many years and with warm weather can be put outside in filtered light.  Each leaf has a variety of colors ranging from yellow, to red and orange.  Inside they require bright light and well-drained soil.  Fertilize about every 2 weeks with a liquid organic fertilizer.  Occasional misting of the leaves will help maintain their vitality.  Small Norfolk Island pine trees are readily available this time of year and when decorated with small ornaments make a good holiday decoration.  When kept in a bright window it will last many years.

Spring is just around the corner, and Valentine’s Day is a good time to get started on this year’s garden.  Fertilize lawns, shrubs and flowerbeds if has been three or more months since the last time.  Use an organic fertilizer.  It will not burn plants, so you can wait a while to water it in and hopefully spring rains will do the job.  SAWS rates went up January 1, so every little bit helps.  Also, mulch around shrubs and in flowerbeds to a depth of 3 to 5 inches.  This will keep roots cool and preserve soil moisture as it gets warmer. 

On October 6, several neighbors joined our plant swap, bringing an abundance of at least 30 different types of plants to share with fellow plant lovers. Thanks to everyone's generosity,  we were able to leave several in front of the KWA office with a "Free Plants" sign.  They were all gone by the next morning. Our next event is planned for spring, so stay tuned for details.

 - Angela Martinez