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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 April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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