February Tips & Events for Santa Clara County
“Plants want to grow; they are on your side as long as you are reasonably sensible.” — Anne Wareham
Make pruning cuts about ¼ inch above a bud and slightly angled away. Source After Caldwell et al. 1972 p. 10.  Excerpt From Dennis R. Pittenger. CA Master Gardener Handbook
Rose Pruning
Pruning roses now while they are dormant can help promote healthy growth in the spring and lots of flowers later on. Make sure your pruning tools are sharp and clean. Start by removing dead or weak canes, then prune the remaining strong canes. Make cuts at a forty-five degree angle about a quarter inch above outward facing buds. This will direct growth into a vase shape that will allow for good air circulation in the middle of the plant, reducing the incidence of some diseases. Make sure to remove any branches coming from below the graft union. 

Illustration: Make pruning cuts about ¼ inch above a bud and slightly angled away. Source: J. Caldwell et al., Pruning Landscape Plants 1972, p. 10. Excerpt From: CA Master Gardener Handbook.
Freshly harvested French Breakfast radishes by Anne McDermott. From UC ANR Repository
Among the fastest and easiest edibles to grow are radishes. This is why they are often grown in milk cartons in classrooms and in school gardens. They can germinate in as little as three days and can be harvested in as little as a month. They can be planted anytime from now through late spring. The radishes grown in winter tend to be less hot than those grown in warmer months, although variety is also a factor in heat level. Plant seeds about half an inch deep, preferably in loose soil and full sun. Overwatering can cause the radishes to split. Spread out the seeding over the course of a few weeks so that the harvest will be extended

Photo: Freshly harvested French Breakfast radishes, by Anne McDermott, from UC ANR Repository
Citrus Fruit Display and Tasting Event by Event Kilmartin from UC ANR Repository
Choosing Varieties
Just because the description on the tag or in the catalog is tantalizing doesn’t mean a variety will do well in our soil and climate. How can you choose the best varieties of fruits, vegetables, or ornamentals for your own yard? You want to make sure the plants will fit in the space provided and that the site can provide what the plants need (sun, temperature, drainage, etc.). Independent nurseries are more likely than national chains to have varieties appropriate for a given area. Our Master Gardener website has recommendations based on local research, including vegetables , fruits and nuts , and waterwise plants . Individual preferences vary widely, and it ultimately comes down to what you like.

Photo:Citrus fruit display and tasting event, by Evett Kilmartin
Advanced gray mold of strawberry fruit. Photo by Steven Koike UCCE
Winemakers may encourage Botrytis and give it the nickname of “Noble Rot”, yet gardeners dislike it and call it the less royal “Gray Mold”. It can cause bedding plants to wilt and die fairly quickly. It can appear as a fuzzy gray or brown fungus and generally enters the plant at a point of injury. Clean out any plant material that is dead or decaying so that the pathogen does not have an easy target. Having good air circulation around plants, through spacing or pruning, can help. It thrives in wet conditions! Immediately remove any infected plant material and dispose of it with yard waste. Do not put it into the compost.

UC has more information about Gray Mold on strawberries , caneberries , and ornamentals
Photo: Advanced gray mold of strawberry fruit. Photo by Steven Koike, UCCE, from UC Blog posting A Treatise on Botrytis Diseases of Strawberry and Caneberry
Bigleaf hydrangea pink blossoms by Jack Kelly Clark. UC ANR Repository
Hydrangeas are fast-growing perennials that provide big color in the garden. They are deciduous, so they can be planted now in the dormant season. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and two to three times as wide. It is important to amend the soil for good drainage. If you want the popular blue flowers on your hydrangea you will have to acidify your soil; our alkaline soils naturally produce pink flowers. There are different varieties that produce white flowers regardless of soil pH. Morning sun is good, but they should be protected from hot afternoon sun. As suggested by their name, hydrangeas will need a fair amount of water, at least until they are established. Prune annually after bloom.

Photo: Bigleaf hydrangea blossoms, by Jack Kelly Clark
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View at library presentation by Tuan Hoang
Upcoming Events
We offer lots of free or low-cost gardening talks, workshops, and courses all over the county, as well as hosting information tables at many community events. Please join us and bring your questions!

Sat, Feb 02, 10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.,  Planting Now for Early Spring Vegetables  , Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Dr,  Palo Alto

Mon, Feb 04, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Building a Raised Bed and Composting Tips  , Morgan Hill Library, 60 W Main Ave,  Morgan Hill

Mon, Feb 04, 7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.,  Success in the Year-Round Vegetable Garden: Six-Week Course  ($96 ), Palo Alto High School, 50 Embarcadero Road,  Palo Alto

Wed, Feb 06, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Container Gardening for All Seasons , Gilroy Library, 350 W 6th St.,  Gilroy

Wed, Feb 06, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Vertebrate Pest Control in the Home Garden , Cupertino Community Hall, 10350 Torre Ave City,  Cupertino

Sat, Feb 09, 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.,  Winter Fruit Tree Pruning , First Floor Program Room, Mountain View Library, 585 Franklin Street,  Mountain View

Tue, Feb 12, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Container Gardening , Campbell Library, 77 Harrison Ave,  Campbell

Sat, Feb 16, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.,  Pruning Deciduous Fruit Trees , St. Louise Hospital Teaching & Demo Garden, 9400 No Name Uno Way,  Gilroy

Sat, Feb 16, 10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.,  Planting Fruit Trees (with Demonstration) , Martial Cottle Park, 5283 Snell Ave,  San Jose

Sat, Feb 16, 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.,  Growing Microgreens , Berryessa Library, 3355 Noble Ave,  San Jose

Sat, Feb 16, 1:30 p.m.–3:30 p.m.,  Pruning Roses Demonstration , St. Louise Hospital Teaching & Demo Garden, 9400 No Name Uno Way,  Gilroy

Sat, Feb 16, 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.,  A Winter Start For Your Summer Garden , Sunnyvale Public Library, 665 W Olive Ave,  Sunnyvale

Thu, Feb 21, 7:00 p.m.–8:15 p.m.,  Fruit Tree Selection and Care , Rinconada Library, 1213 Newell Rd.,  Palo Alto

Sat, Feb 23, 1:00 p.m.–2:30 p.m.,  Vertebrate Pest Control in Your Garden , Mission Branch Library, 1098 Lexington St,  Santa Clara

Wed, Feb 27, 6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m.,  ABCs of Fertilizing Home Gardens , West Valley Public Library, 1243 San Tomas Aquino Rd,  San Jose

Wed, Feb 27, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Growing Citrus Trees in Containers , Los Altos Library, 13 S. San Antonio Road,  Los Altos

Sat, Mar 02, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.,  Gardening in Containers , The Forge Garden, 1051 Sherman St.,  Santa Clara

Sat, Mar 02, 1:00 p.m.–2:30 p.m.,  Spring Gardening Tips and To Do lists , Central Park Library, 2635 Homestead Rd,  Santa Clara
Visit the UC Master Gardener Program website  for additional information including an up-to-date list of events and classes .

Have a gardening question? Contact our Help Desk (for Santa Clara County residents). Start by reviewing our plant  problem diagnosis tips .
  • Mon-Fri 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., 408-282-3105
  • Fri ONLY 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m., 650-329-1356 (Closed Dec. & Jan.)
  • Or send us your question online

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Santa Clara County Master Gardener Program volunteers are trained under the auspices of the UCCE. Our mission is to promote sustainable gardening practices by providing up-to-date, research-based horticultural information to home gardeners.

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