Ann Wright: Native plants in the garden | TheUnion.com

Ann Wright: Native plants in the garden

Ann Wright
Columnist

Growing native plants for special gardens and landscapes is becoming increasingly more popular. Native plants are better adapted to thrive in our climate, and ultimately require less work once established. There are many beautiful native flowers and perennial shrubs offering a variety of colors and textures.

Once mature, native plants will generally survive summers without much water, and conversely well-established natives can be harmed by too much water. Planting native plants is much like planting any other plant — make sure the plants are not too deep — plant a little high to allow for settling.

Although many native plants can be planted anytime, fall or winter is best, allowing the plants to establish stronger roots during the wet season. If planted later in the spring, supplemental water will be needed to help plants become established.

All native plants generally require water through the first two summers. It is recommended that native plants be allowed to grow in native soil with no fertilizer added when planting.

To learn more about native plants, join Master Gardeners for today's workshop, "Native Plants Have a Lot to Offer in Your Garden" from 10 a.m. to noon at the Elk's Lodge in Grass Valley, 109 S. School Street.

The workshop is designed for anyone wanting just a few native plants or for those who are ready for a total landscape transformation. Workshop content will highlight the importance of observing the growing site, discovering microclimates and finding any problem areas.

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Local Master Gardeners, who live at different elevations, will share their own experiences and offer advice on preparing an area for native plants, choosing what to plant and how to best establish and maintain natives.

In addition to planning to add some interesting natives to the garden, other tasks for February include pruning back woody-stemmed plants (such as Artemisia, butterfly bush and fuchsia). Cutting back close to the ground helps prevent these ornamentals from getting leggy and unkempt.

Dormant oil can be sprayed on trees and plants to smother over-wintering insects such as aphids, mites and scales. Completely coat the branches and trunks of trees. This is also a good time to spray for peach leaf curl as leaf buds begin to swell, before any color shows in the bud. Use a copper product containing 50 percent or more copper or lime sulfur. Spray roses with fixed copper to prevent rust and black spot.

The Nevada County Master Gardeners have a number of other workshops planned this spring. On Saturday, March 3, "Water Wise Gardening" will be presented. Learn how to enjoy beautiful gardens while conserving a very precious resource – water.

On Saturday, March 10, "The Amazing Mason Bees" will be presented, followed by the popular "Totally Tomatoes" workshop on Saturday, March 17. All workshops in early spring are held at the Elk's Lodge in Grass Valley, 10 a.m. to noon.

For more information, check the website at http://www.ncmg.ucanr.org or call the Hotline at 530-273-0919. Master Gardeners are in the office from 9 a.m. to noon each Tuesday and Thursday at the Veteran's Hall 255 South Auburn St. in Grass Valley.

Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener.