GARDEN FANATIC:After the rain, it’s time to plant

“I am extraordinarily patient provided I get my own way."  -- Margaret Thatcher

“Boy, you’re going to carry that weight.” -- The Beatles

I patiently waited for the rain to begin this week — rather than working in the garden. It’s just an excuse to get my own way; munching on popcorn indoors is much more fun than raking up leaves.


An entire day anticipating rain that arrived after daylight was spent. Another evening of angst, knowing that I could have spent time in my garden and shed some of the holiday excess.

When it isn’t raining, February is one of the best months for planting. The soil is naturally moist and temperatures are generally moderate in Laguna.

Such conditions are ideal for root growth, ensuring a good start for trees, shrubs, and lawns. Rose pruning should also be completed this month, and once completed, immediately apply your favorite fertilizer.

Your recent questions for the Plant Man included:


Q. How can I keep gophers out of my raised vegetable planter?

A. Rather than using traps or poisons, I would place aviary wire at the bottom of the planter and attach it to the sides with nails. This will create a barrier that your friends can’t penetrate.

Q. Could you recommend a few Floribunda roses for my garden?

A. Gladly. Second in popularity to only hybrid teas, Floribunda roses are quite floriferous. They are well suited massed alone or combined with other shrubs. My personal favorites include Angel face (wonderful mauve-lavender blooms), Iceberg (pure white and arguably the finest rose available) and Playboy (bright orange and sexy).

Q. What flowers look good now?

A. Delphinium, English primrose, foxglove, Iceland poppy, pansy, snapdragon, stock and viola, top the Plant Man’s garden color list for February.

Q. Is it too late for bulbs?

A. Spring bulbs, like callas, gladiolus, lilies, and Lily of the Valley are available at your favorite nursery. If you can find them, there is time to plant daffodil, ranunculus, and narcissus.


Q. Do I have to use a special mix when I plant my azaleas?

A. Azaleas prefer an acid soil, whether growing in the ground or in pots. I recommend that you plant azaleas in 9 parts azalea mix to 1 part garden soil or potting soil. Mulch plants frequently during the year with azalea mix or peat moss.

Q. When I replanted my amaryllis this fall, all I got was leaves. Could you please tell me what I’m doing wrong.

A . After the plant flowers, it is important to keep it watered and fed so the bulb can store energy for the following year’s bloom. If you forgot to do so, that might explain why you were rewarded with only leaves. Although a very sturdy bulb, amaryllis have tender roots and must be handled carefully. You may have inadvertently disturbed the roots. If so, it may not bloom again for several years.

Q. When is the best time to prune olive trees, especially if you want to reduce fruit?

A. Olives should be pruned when the small, white flowers appear in late spring/early summer. This will help to reduce or eliminate the fruit.

If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I will definitely be in the garden, turning over a new leaf, so to speak — or at least clearing the neighbor’s that have blown onto my walkway. And I won’t believe the weather person for the remainder of the winter (he’s in the other paper anyway). See you next time.



  • Steve Kawaratani is happily married to award winning writer, Catharine Cooper, and has two cats and five dogs. He can be reached at (949) 497-2438, or e-mail to