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To determine if a plant is sufficiently cold-hardy, the USDA created numbered zones indicating winter low temperatures; the lower the zone number the colder the winter.
Region "O" — Southern Pacific Coast
There are TWO major fall planting seasons for the Southern Pacific Coast:
Plant Mid-August (or as soon as available) into December
- Bulbs native to Mediterranean and other climates, such as:
- babiana, sparaxis, tritonia, watsonia, bearded iris, ixia, Oxalis purpurea, Scilla Peruviana, freesias, the small alliums, etc.
Plant Mid-October through late January
- Dutch bulbs including daffodils, dwarf narcissi, ranunculus, Anemone coronaria, Spanish bluebells, muscari (grape hyacinths), lilies, Dutch iris.
Many are envious of your glorious year-round weather. But few realize how great your region is for gardening with flower bulbs! True, many of the bulbs you plant in fall are different from those planted in the other regions. Classic "spring bulbs" such as tulips, hyacinths and crocuses will need pre-cooling before planting in your region and will most likely perform as annuals. (See pre-cooling info below).
But others - including the big yellow trumpet daffodils, dwarf narcissi, and iris -- need no special treatment at all and should perennialize or naturalize, if not heavily watered when bulbs are dormant (after flowering, once leaves have died back). Some tulips do better than others for you: try Single Lates, Double Lates, Lily-Flowered, and some of the species types. Local garden centers are generally reliable for stocking bulbs appropriate to your region.
Special Note: To pre-cool tulips, hyacinths and crocuses, store at 35-45° F, for instance in a refrigerator crisper drawer, for a minimum of 6 weeks and up to 14+ weeks. It's important to avoid storing bulbs near ripening fruit, as it gives off ethylene gas which can damage the flower inside the bulb. Once removed from cool storage, plant bulbs immediately. Once cooled at least six weeks, bulbs may be planted anytime from November through January - and regardless of when planted, they will bloom in late February/March.
A Sampling of Flower Bulbs for Perennializing: (return for several years)
A Sampling of Bulbs for Naturalizing: (return & multiply)
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