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Be prepared for soggy Christmas week

Succulents and other sensitive plants need storm protection

Green lacy leaves with water droplets
Pelargoniums, such as these scented geraniums, are among the types of plants
that are vulnerable to cold rains. Begonias, succulents and true geraniums are others. Protect or move them before the storm hits. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Santa is going to get soggy. So are your succulents.

Whoever asked for rain this Christmas is getting their wish fulfilled early. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento is going to get a lot of moisture this week. Starting Tuesday, precipitation is in the forecast for seven consecutive days. Coincidentally, Tuesday is also the first day of winter.

These storms will start out easy, with hit or miss rain on Tuesday and Wednesday. The weather service estimates Sacramento will receive ½ to 1 inch total for those two days.

But Thursday through Saturday, Christmas Day, should see heavier rain with another 2 inches in the forecast. In addition, daytime temperatures are going to be chilly – mostly in the 40s. That’s well below this week’s average high of 56 degrees.

Prepare for these rainy days ahead:

* Clear any debris such as fallen leaves and twigs from storm drains and rain gutters.

* Watch out for spots where water may pool around your home – especially the foundation. Add extensions to downspouts so water is directed away from the house.

* Succulents can’t take a lot of cold water, and this rain will feel frigid. Cold or warm, too much rain and succulents will rot. Move potted plants to protected spots under eaves or on a covered patio.

* The same advice goes for begonias and geraniums/pelargoniums. If possible, give them some protection from these cold and soggy conditions.

* Remove any saucers under pots. Otherwise, roots may rot from standing in water.

* Protect holiday plants such as poinsettias and cyclamens. Although they need to be kept watered, they'll prefer a dry and bright spot indoors to the wet and cold outside.

Wet mulch and soil
Soggy soil is bad for planting. Don't walk on it, either.
* Don’t plant in soggy ground. Your new transplants – even bare-root roses – may rot.

* Avoid walking on very wet soil. It will compact, squeezing out its vital air pockets.

* Make a note of where water naturally flows in your landscape. You may want to create a rain garden and capture water from future storms.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 5

Make the most of sunny days and get winter tasks done:

* This is the last chance to spray fruit trees before they bloom. Treat peach and nectarine trees with copper-based fungicide. Spray apricot trees at bud swell to prevent brown rot. Apply horticultural oil to control scale, mites and aphids on fruit trees soon after a rain. But remember: Oils need at least 24 hours to dry to be effective. Don’t spray during foggy weather or when rain is forecast.

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Finish pruning roses and deciduous trees.

* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

* Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.

* Transplant cabbage and its close cousins – broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts – as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions.

* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

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