Enjoy the colors of early spring! Things like Tabebuia Ipe and Azalea start flowering this month.
Start your landscaping plans for this year. Visit your locally-owned nursery for ideas of plants to add to your yard.
Wait to cut things back! It's still too early for hard pruning - wait till after mid-March. If we get a cold snap now, old foliage (even cold-damaged foliage) will help protect a plant.
Don't fertilize yet...plants won't take up fertilizer till our nights are warmer. Mid-March is the earliest for applications of slow-release and controlled-release granules.
Water once a week to every 10 days if we've had no rain. Winter and spring months tend to be dry.
Inspect plants for pest damage. If you see some, take cuttings bagged in plastic to your local nursery for diagnosis and treatment options.
Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus) is a small and colorful perennial, eye-catching for its iridescent purple leaves with a metallic sheen. I've seen nursery customers walk right past brightly flowering plants and head for the Persian Shield with a gasp of pleasure.
This is a striking plant for a partial to full shade area. In fact, with too much sun the beautiful foliage color will fade.
You can keep it trimmed to about 2' tall.
Left alone, Persian Shield can grow somewhat sparse and floppy, so pinch or cut back stems when the plant is young to encourage branching. It propagates easily from cuttings so it's a perfect plant to share with friends.
The leaves can grow fairly large - up to 6" or 7" long, and the plant produces little flowers in winter but they can't compete with the unusual foliage.
Zone 10 is best, though in Zone 9B it often comes back from a winter dieback - or you can grow it as an annual during warm months. It also does well in containers.
Regular watering is a must for this plant.
My paperback book Snowbird Gardening is now sold out! I will not be reprinting it, but you can still get the ebook version here.
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