Gardeners and plant lovers: 15 things to learn and do in SoCal this month

An illustration of a  bushel of roses dressed up as a cupid cherub.
(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times)

It’s February, when plant-related classes and walks are blooming all over Southern California — both romantic and instructional. However, you need to act fast if you plan to register for these events as the number of participants is limited.

Just a reminder too that February is still a good time to start an orchard in your garden, or even a container, if you buy dwarf fruit trees designed for small spaces. Many local nurseries still have bare-root fruit trees available — the best way to get your fruit bounty started.

It’s a good idea to buy from local nurseries to get a variety that grows well in your region. That’s because apples, pears and soft fruits like peaches and cherries require a certain number of chill hours — hours when the temperature is between 32 and 45 degrees — to produce fruit. The California Rare Fruit Growers website lists nurseries that sell a large variety of fruit trees, but it’s not complete, so be sure to check the offerings at nurseries near your home.

Here’s our latest list of plant and garden events in the L.A. area into early March. Email garden- and plant-related events to at least three weeks before they happen, and we might include them in the calendar.

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Feb. 4
California Native Container Plants — a class about growing native plants in pots — taught by Flora Ito, nursery sales manager at the Theodore Payne Foundation nursery, 10459 Tuxford St. in Sun Valley, from 9 to 10:15 a.m. Participants must have proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the class. Masks are required indoors and out. Register online, $25, or $20 for members.

Feb. 5
Celebrating Citrus with Riverside County master gardener Lucy Heyming from 10 a.m. to noon at the Land Use Learning Center, 4500 Glenwood Drive in Riverside. Heyming will outline Riverside’s citrus history (home of the state’s first navel orange tree) and provide guidance on the care of citrus and updates on Huanglongbing (HLB or citrus greening disease). It’s part of the Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District’s free “Ask a UC Master Gardener” program the first Saturday of every month at the center, a 3-acre demonstration garden for sustainable growing practices for native plant habitats, urban plantings and agriculture. Registration is not required.

Feb. 6
Who’s Eating My Garden?, a class at the Cook’s Garden, 1033 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. will focus on organic pest control and effective fertilizing. The class begins with a lecture and ends with a hands-on experience in the farm’s production beds. Participants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and present a vaccination card at the door.

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Feb. 8
Secrets of a Healthy Vegetable Garden, a free workshop sponsored by the Orange County Organic Gardening Club and taught by Julie Bawden-Davis, master gardener and author of “Southern California Vegetable Gardening,” at 7:30 p.m. in the Orange County Fairgrounds Silo Building, 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa.

Feb. 11-12
Plants & Romance at San Diego Botanic Garden opens the California Gardenscapes for an evening stroll, illuminated by twinkle lights, outdoor fire pits and live classical guitar music, from 5:30 to 8 at 230 Quail Gardens Drive in Encinitas. Advance registration is required, and visitors can sample free chocolates inside the conservatory (where masks are required). Admission is $22 ($18 for seniors, military and adult members, $14 for ages 3-17, $10 for members ages 3-17 and free for children under age 3). A $60 sweet and sparkling souvenir package containing two Champagne flutes with the garden logo, two glasses of sparkling wine or juice, a box of Chuao Chocolatier chocolates and an air plant is also available if purchased by Feb. 7.


Feb. 12-13
Southern California Camellia Society’s 49th Camellia Show at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, from 1 to 5 p.m. Feb. 12 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 13. The general public may enter camellia blooms for judging from 7 to 10:30 a.m. Feb. 12. The show is free to visitors after $29 admission to the gardens ($24 for seniors 65 and older, active military and students with ID, $13 ages 4-11. Members and children under age 4 enter free.) Masks are required indoors.

Feb. 14
Bawdy Botany for Adults at the L.A. Arboretum, an adult-only night hike “to discover the fascinating botany of love and lust,” as in the botanic origins of the birth control pill or why we give roses to our sweethearts, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at 301 N. Baldwin Ave. in Arcadia. Participants must be 18 or older and register online. Participants should arrive 10 minutes early; late arrivals will not be permitted to join the group. Note that the same event on Feb. 12 has already sold out. Tickets are $25 ($20 for members).

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Feb. 15-19
Theodore Payne Foundation Winter Plant Sale at the foundation’s nursery, 10459 Tuxford St. in Sun Valley, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sale includes native seeds, books and other merchandise, as well as one of the region’s largest selections of native plants. Members receive a 15% discount, and nonmembers get a 10% discount on all plants, seeds and foundation gear. Masks are required on the grounds. Admission is free, but shoppers must preregister for specific dates and times. Each reservation is for one vehicle with up to four passengers (who do not need to make separate reservations).

Feb. 19
Apple Grafting Workshop with master grafter Arnold Bernstein at Ganna Walska Lotusland on Cold Spring Road in Montecito from 9 to 11:30 a.m. The class explains how to graft a desirable branch or bud to a compatible new tree to produce fruit from the parent tree, a process used to produce most of the fruit we consume. In this hands-on workshop, participants will graft and take home a semi-dwarf producing apple tree, suitable for the coastal climate. All materials will be provided. Masks are required for the workshop. Register online. $125 ($95 for Lotusland members). In the event of heavy rain, the class will be canceled.

Feb. 19-20
Pacific Camellia Society 16th Show at Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 19 and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 20. The general public may enter camellia blooms for judging from 7 to 10:30 a.m. Feb. 19. The show is free to visitors after $15 admission to the gardens ($11 for seniors 65 and older and students with ID, $5 for children ages 5-12. Members and children under age 5 enter free). Masks are required indoors.

Feb. 20
How to Grow a Cocktail-Inspired Garden, a class offered by the South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 Crenshaw Blvd. in Rolling Hills Estates, is taught by Terry Huang, the garden’s director of living collections, learning and engagement. Participants will learn the trick to growing and harvesting the specialty herbs, spices and edible flowers that make delicious cocktails and mocktails. They’ll also participate in a seasonal cocktail happy hour with drinks handcrafted by the garden’s mixologist. The class costs $50 ($40 for members) and includes general admission to the garden and two craft cocktails/mocktails.

Crystal Cove State Park Field Trip, sponsored by the Orange County chapter of the California Native Plant Society, a 4.5-mile walk led by Lana Nguyen, a California State Parks biologist, through one of the major coastal watersheds of the San Joaquin Hills. Participants will learn about the native plants in the canyon’s coastal sage scrub and grassland areas, starting at 8 a.m. at the Lower Moro Canyon Day Use parking area. The three- to four-hour walk has gradual elevation changes and one steep hill. The walk is free and open to the first 20 who register. A $15 State Parks entrance fee is required for parking. Participants should wear hiking shoes, a hat and sunscreen, and bring water, a camera and a wildflower book or notepad.

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Feb. 25-March 6
Tomatomania! at Roger’s Gardens, 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road in Corona del Mar, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. This is Tomatomania’s first event of the 2022 tomato growing season, offering more than 100 varieties of peppers and 250 varieties of heirloom and hybrid tomato plants— including its Tomato of the Year “Bronze Torch,” a brick-red, grape-style fruit with dark green and gold striping. Tomato plants can be pre-ordered online Feb. 4-20.

Feb. 26
Nature Immersion Walk at Taft Gardens in Ojai, led by Elena Rios, a certified nature and forest therapy guide, from 8:45 to 11 a.m. The 2-mile walk begins with a greeting and introduction circle and takes participants beyond the cultivated parts of the garden into the 200-acre Taft Gardens Nature Preserve, ending with a ceremony sharing tea made from the native plants foraged from the area. This is a slow walk with a moderate incline over rocky terrain, without any benches or chairs, so participants are welcome to bring their own lightweight camping stools or yoga mats if they don’t want to sit on the ground. Tickets are $35, and advance registration is required.

Feb. 26-27
Southern California Camellia Council 62nd Spring Camellia Show at Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 26 and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 27. This show is a joint event involving the region’s four camellia societies in Kern and San Diego counties, as well as the Pacific Camellia Society and the Southern California Camellia Society. The general public may enter camellia blooms for judging from 7 to 10:30 a.m. Feb. 26. The show is free to visitors after $15 admission to the gardens ($11 for seniors 65 and older and students with ID, $5 for children ages 5-12. Members and children under age 5 enter free). Masks are required indoors.