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February To-Do List for Zone 10
  • Celebrate winter's end by filling window boxes and planters with cold-hardy snapdragons and stocks (Matthiola incana).
  • Plant seeds of corn and cucumbers in the garden, but be prepared to protect them from a surprise frost.
  • Set out transplants of hot peppers; be prepared to protect them from frost and, as the weather warms, from intense sunlight.
  • Plant fast-growing varieties of beets, carrots, and radishes so you can harvest a crop before the real heat sets in.
  • Also start southern favorites, such as okra, southern peas, and sweet potatoes.
  • Lubber grasshoppers hatch this month: Spread Semaspore around the perimeter of your property and on their favorite foods—amaryllis (Hippeastrum spp.), tuberoses (Polianthes tuberosa), rain lilies (Zephyranthes spp.), and crinum lilies (Crinum spp.).

March To-Do List For Zone 10

  • Plant okra, sweet potatoes, mustard, collards, cucumbers, and melons.
  • Plant flowers that will tolerate heat: petunias, zinnias, cockscomb (Celosia cristata), and caladium (Caladium ✕ hortulanum).
  • Start papaya (Carica papaya), chayote (Sechium edule), roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), and jelly melon (Cucumis metuliferus).
  • If your holiday poinsettia is leggy, cut it back and plant it outdoors in a spot that doesn't receive artificial light at night.
  • Prune tabebuias (Tabebuia spp.) as soon as blooming stops.
  • At month's end, use a micronutrient spray to fertilize everything.
  • Dig compost into the soil near new plants and around the dripline of established trees and shrubs.
April To-Do List for Zone 10
  • Plant perennials so they can settle in before the summer heat arrives; give them plenty of water.
  • Plant heat-loving bedding plants, such as vinca (Catharanthus roseus), strawflowers (Helichrysum bracteatum), blanket flowers (Gaillardia spp.), and gazanias.
  • Plant roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), amaranth, and Malabar spinach (Basella alba) now through August; make sure you give the Malabar spinach some shade and extra water.
  • Try some tropical edibles: Buy malanga, gingerroot, and others at the market. Cut them into pieces at least 1⁄2 inch long, and plant. Harvest from October through December.
  • Trellis tropical cucurbits (luffa, chayote, Tahitian squash, and so on) on a fence, and reap the rewards this fall.

May To-Do List for Zone 10
  • Plant heat-loving veggies, such as sweet potatoes, okra, and southern peas.
  • Keep heat-tolerant herbs, such as lemongrass, going strong by feeding them with fish emulsion and seaweed spray.
  • If thyme, basil, and curry leaf show signs of mildew, spray them with a solution made from 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 gallon of water; repeat every few days.
  • Solarize empty garden beds: Cover them with clear plastic for a month or two to kill nematodes and weed seeds and pathogens in the soil.
  • Mulch all plants heavily.
  • Stop whiteflies and mealybugs with insecticidal soap.
June To-Do List for Zone 10
  • Feed fast-growing bananas and summer-flowering perennials, such as hibiscus and ixora, with compost to prepare them for upcoming bloom.
  • Clean up debris beneath mangoes to prevent anthracnose disease; for bad infections, spray with copper solution.
  • Prune cassia trees, royal poinciana, bougainvillea, and jasmine after they bloom.
  • Prune tropical fruits after the harvest this month.
  • Kill pests and diseases in vacant beds by covering moist soil with clear plastic for several weeks.
July To-Do List for Zone 10
  • To grow roses here, be sure they're grafted onto ‘Rosa ✕ fortuniana' rootstock, which is nematode-and disease-resistant.
  • Feed roses with compost, fish emulsion, and seaweed spray.
  • For late summer planting, start seeds of collards, okra, eggplant, southern peas, and heat-resistant tomatoes.
  • Pay attention to gardenias, walking iris (Neomarica caerulea), and monstera (Monstera deliciosa)—all are susceptible to iron deficiencies and may need supplemental feedings.
  • Harvest full-size monstera fruit, bring it indoors, and put it in a paper bag with an apple slice to finish ripening.
  • Turfgrass is growing fast—mow high and never remove more than one-third at a time.
  • When working outdoors in heat, take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water.