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WINTER CARE IN THE LAKE CHAPALA MICRO CLIMATE TREES, FLOWERS AND OTHER PLANTS:

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

by Harvey Bliss Lake Chapala Garden Club, November 16th, 2005



We come from all over the continent and Europe, from vastly different growing conditions from each other and, certainly, from here. Here we have a wholly different microclimate than we were used to: we're a mile-high; by a large lake, which is a moderating influence, keeping us cooler in summer and warmer in winter, even more so now that it has grown; in a bowl surrounded by mountains; in the tropics.


There are also variations here: the south side of the lake is more shaded and cooler, some of us live by the lake and some up the slope, some are windy and some are protected by high walls, some are shaded by walls and trees and some are open and sunny.


We see vastly different growing conditions in the dry heat of april and may and then the rains of summer. Today we'll consider the effect of cold, dryness, dormancy, moving sun and shade and deciduous species. Days are shorter, the sun is more oblique and weaker - it is moving so that the north wall that was in shade is now in sun and vice versa for the south wall. The soil does not dry out as much - plants must be checked to see if they need water. Under-watering produces shallow surface roots rather than deep roots and over-watering can rot roots.


Plants transpire through their leaves. In the long sunny days of summer, or on a windy day, they transpire more and the soil dries out more quickly. In the shorter days of winter, or after pruning back, leaves transpire less and the soil remains moist.


In container gardening, pots will dry out more quickly than the ground. For bonsai, those small pots still need watering 1-2 times a day. Generally, sap rises in the spring - here February - and produces top growth that needs a lot of nitrogen (the first number), water and sun. In the fall, top growth slows or stops, root growth increases and plants need fertilizer with low nitrogen and higher middle and last numbers. In late October, November and December - January fertilizing stops (except for plants in small pots that don't go dormant and some others) and watering slows or stops, depending on the plant (and that is crucial). Treatment varies from plant to plant, as we'll discuss below.


All this is common sense and can be easily seen in your garden. You are the expert on the plants in your garden. If the plant remains leafy and green, it will continue to need water. If the leaves fall or are cut, the soil remains damp and must not be over-watered. Reduce fertilizer in the former case and withhold in the latter. It is also helpful to know where the plant comes from, where it lives in nature. Does it grow at sea level or in a cloud forest? In a desert or a swamp? In a tropical forest or open field?


We've developed answers to many questions and we'll go through the list alphabetically. This is a developing and cooperative effort and this list will continue to build with your input. This is not an encyclopedia but a select list of plants commonly found here.


ABUTILON (Flowering Maple, Indian Mallow) - Continue water and fertilizer


ACACIA. MIMOSA - Continue but reduce


ACALYPHA (Chenille - Long pendent red flowers) - Continue to water


ACHILLEA (Yarrow) - Reduce water in winter


AGAPANTHUS (African blue lily) - Continue to water


AGERATUM- Continue watering


ALLAMANDA & MANDAVILLA - Lots of water in summer, semi dormant in winter, prune and reduce water


ALSTROMERIA - Water sparingly in winter


AMARYLLIS (Hippeastrum) - Reduce water, consider dividing bulbs (larger bulbs produce more flowers so split off babies) - plant bulb up to its neck. Increase water as stem extends


ANTHURIUM - Reduce humidity and water sparingly in winter


ARALIA- Keep up water


AZALEA & RHODODENDRON - Keep moist


BAMBOO- Water freely all year


BANANA- Water freely all year


BAUHINIA (Orchid tree) - Continue water


BEGONIA- Do not over-water


BOUGAINVILLEA- Better with occasional deep watering, keep just moist in winter


BOX - Continue watering


BROMELIADS - Water freely in summer, low nitrogen fertilizer, keep just moist in winter


BRUGMANSIA (Angel's Trumpet [points down, Datura points up])- Continue water but reduce


BRUNSFELSIA (1 of which is Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow) - Water sparingly in winter


BUDDLEIA (Butterfly bush) - Water sparingly in winter


CACTI & SUCCULENTS - Infrequent water


CAESALPINIA (Poinciana) - Occasional water


CALLALILIES - Very moist all year


CALLIANDRA (Powder Puff) - Occasional water


CAMELLIA- Reduce water in winter


CANNA- Water


CARISSA (Natal Plum) - Continue water and fertilizer


CITRUS TREES - Water deeply in ground every 2-3 weeks,more often in pots, prune when cold


COLEUS-Reduce water


CROCOSMIA - Occasional water (bulbs spread to football field size)


CYCLAMEN - 3 groups, some do not let dry out and some need dryness in dormancy- have to know which you've got


DAHLIA - Dormant in winter


DAISIES (ENGLISH - BELLIS)


DAY LILY - Occasional water


EUCALYPTUS - Water sparingly in winter


EUONYMOUS - Deciduous here?


EVERGREENS - PINE, JUNIPER, FIR, CEDAR, SPRUCE, YEW, CYPRESS, FALSE CYPRESS, HEMLOCK- Continue water but reduce. prune pines when cold -


MAXIMUM ~. Nip buds when elongate in spring to keep compact


FERNS - Continue water


FICUS - Continue water & fertilizer


FRUIT TREES - Continue water & fertilizer


FUCHSIA - Continue but reduce water & fertilizer


GARDENIA- Continue water & acid fertilizer


GERANIUM/ PELARGONIUM - Don't like summer rains, flourish in fall & winter, don't over-water


GERBERA - Keep moist in winter


GINKGO BILOBA -


GRASSES - Fertilize with winterizer for the spring and continue to water, every 2 days


GUAVA/ GUAYABA - Water every other day, water moderately in winter


HIBISCUS - Continue water&fertilizer


HOSTA - Keep moist, but some will tolerate drought


HOYA - Continue but reduce water & fertilizer


HYDRANGEA (Hortensia in french & spanish, after queen Hortense of Belgium, Josephine's daughter) - blue in acid soil, pink in alkaline, white in either - keep humid & moist and shelter from cold winds


IMPATIENS - Water sparingly in winter


IRIS - Some like to be kept moist, some dry


IVY(HEDERA) - Evergreen, Continue to water


JACARANDA - Water all winter (but appears to tolerate drought)


JASMINE - Low nitrogen fertilizer in summer, continue water but reduce in winter


JUSTICIA (Brandegeeana is our shrimp plant) - Keep just moist in winter


KALANCHOE- Occasional water, just moist


KITCHEN HERBS - Depends on which herb


CHIVES, PARSLEY - Water regularly


ROSEMARY, SAGE, THYME- Water occasionally


LAGERSTROEMIA (1 of which is crape myrtle) - Water sparingly in winter


LANTANA- Just moist in winter


LEONOTIS (Lion's Ear, Lion's Tail)- Water sparingly in winter


LILY- Keep moist in winter [also see sprekelia below]


LIQUIDAMBAR (Sweetgum)- Deciduous, reduce water


MAGNOLIA - Peat moss around base for acidity


MARIGOLD (Calendula) - Reduce water in winter


MEXICAN HEATHER (Cuphea) - Continue water


MONSTERA - Continue but reduce


NERIUM (Oleander) - Water sparingly in winter (& always avoid the sap)


ORCHIDS - For hybrids & cultivated orchids, reduce water and fertilizer after growth and flowering at any time of year. Species are a whole other study. There is a great variety of genera, types, growing conditions and treatment, from full sun to shade, full watering to reduced or no watering - have to check. Generally, orchids require bright shade in summer but like some weak winter sun


PALM - Continue water


PASSION FLOWER - Water freely in growth, sparingly in winter


PENTA - Water sparingly in winter


PEPEROMIA - Water sparingly in winter


PETREA VOLUBILIS (Sandpaper vine, purple wreath, queen's wreath) - water sparingly in winter


PETUNIA - Reduce water in winter


PHILODENDRON - Water sparingly in winter


PEPPER TREE - Water sparingly in winter


PLUMBAGO - Continue watering. cool growing, dislikes under 450


PLUMERIA (Frangipani) - water freely while growing. deciduous, keep almost dry in winter after leaves fall. grows 1m a year when mature, needs to be kept in check - prune 1/3 each year in december/january. Cuttings root easily or make good firewood.


POINSETTIA - Sets buds and produces flowers as autumn nights


LENGTHEN - Needs at least 14 hours of darkness (even house or street lights can interfere). Continue watering and fertilizing. if you don't know the dwarf white, look for it.


POMEGRANTE- Water sparingly in winter


POPPY - Sew seeds in fall, don't over-water, will bloom in spring


PRIMAVERA (Cybistax / Tabebuia) - Tolerates drought


PYRACANTHA (Firethorn)- Continue watering


ROOT VEGETABLES - Plant in fall


ROSE - Prune in october for christmas blossoms, prune heavily end december - january and apply epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to the soil for basal breaks and water in, then reduce watering


RUDBECKIA (Coneflower) - Sun or part shade, do not let dry out


RUELLIA- Reduce water after autumn blooming


SALVIA- Culinary, do not over-water ornamental, varies with various specie


NATIVES - On dry side all the time


SCAEVOLA - Lots of water, all year


SCHEFFLERA- Continue but reduce water


SENECIO CINERARIA (Dusty miller) - Keep just moist in winter


SPREKELIA (AZTEC LILY, JACOBEAN LILY) - Reduce water as foliage fades, keep almost dry when dormant.


STRELITZIA (Bird of paradise) - Water sparingly in winter


TAMARIND - In nature tolerates drought


THUNBERGIA- Water


TIBOUCHINA (Cristina) - Reduce water when semi-dormant


TIGRIDIA - Water freely in growth. deciduous, keep almost dry when dormant. Consider dividing bulbs. Tag well or may lose bulbs in ground. Does well in pots


VANILLA (which is an Orchid) - Continue watering freely in winter


VERBENA - Water sparingly in winter


VIOLA (PANSY, VIOLET) - Continue water


WISTERIA - Deciduous, reduce water

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