Gardening in the Winter

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

Winter in Pacific Palisades is one of the best times for maintenance and proactively caring for your garden, leaving it ready to flourish in the spring.

Some plants tend to go dormant during the cold winter months. Dormancy is a plant’s way of “hibernating” and conserving its energy until better conditions present themselves.

But these plants should still be cared for. It is important to consistently remove surrounding debris and to prune flowers and fruit trees while they are dormant—doing so encourages growth and a healthy garden.

Kathleen Hobbs, a florist from Palisades Flowers, said that during the winter, we should be vigilant about how much we water our plants. Overwatering is detrimental to plant health.

“Even though we are in Southern California and it doesn’t rain a whole lot, some plants don’t like a whole lot of water,” Hobbs said. “You want to make sure you’re watering the correct amount for that particular plant.”

But after the showers, winter can be an ideal time to apply mulch. Mulch is any organic material used to lay over the surface of the soil. Applying a bed of mulch around plants helps retain moisture in the soil and prevents weeds from growing.

Winter months are also optimal for sowing, or depositing, seeds into the soil. Seeds sown now will generate strong roots and verdure. Hobbs said December is the time to sow your leafy greens and vegetables: spinach, kale, cabbage and broccoli.

Hobbs recommended geraniums, primroses, alyssums and poinsettias as blooming flowers. She also shared that you can never go wrong with succulents. Succulents are plants that retain water in their leaves, stems or both.

“The best thing in California all year long is going to be succulents and cacti,” Hobbs said. “No matter what time of year, even now, you can put some succulents out and they will grow and grow.”

Hobbs added that during the winter, certain flowers become more expensive because they are being grown elsewhere or indoors, but Palisades Flowers generally has hydrangeas, roses, orchids and lycianthes during the winter months. Peonies are especially expensive during this time of year because they are being shipped to the Palisades.

Glen Gessford, president of the Malibu Garden Club, shared that there are numerous trees and plants that can help bring color to a winter garden.

“For trees, I would suggest the toyon tree or English holly with red berries and green leaves,” Gessford said. “For colorful flowers I would suggest clivia as a border with bright orange colors or Torch Aloe … or Pink Beauty Jade, which attracts bees.”

Toyon is sometimes referred to as “Christmas berry,” as it produces bright red berries in the winter. Clivias usually begin blooming in the winter, and Torch Aloe have flame-like clusters of flowers that are visible during the winter. The “Pink Beauty,” or Pink Jade Plant, is a winter-flowering succulent.

Thanks to mild winters, the Palisades has plenty of gardening options.