UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County
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UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County

In the News

Tricky Plants That You May Never See!

What do Fritillaria devlavayi plants and chameleons have in common? Think evolution and ensuring their survival for years to come. If you thought about their ability to camouflage themselves, you're right!

Plants have a will to live similar to humans and other animals. Besides changing colors, some plants have changed their shapes and patterns over many thousands of years to blend in with their environments. What is a newly discovered twist is that researchers in China determined that humans have also influenced the camouflaging of plants. Yang Niu, Martin Stevens, and Hang Sun published a paper in Current Biology on this topic.

They found that a highly sought-after plant (Fritillaria devlavayi) used for more than 2,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine costing over $200 a pound can change color based on the location it is growing in. In the Hengduan Mountains near Yulong, China, you'll easily see it sporting green foliage while 65 miles away you may not even see it at all. There, it's an earth-tone brown hue hard to distinguish from its rocky background.

Why? Fritillaria made this adaptation to protect it from extinction by “hunters” whose goal was to harvest it. Rocky areas are more porous and loose, lending themselves to easier plant collection. Fritillaria has no known natural enemies leading researchers to surmise that human harvesting resulted in the camouflaging adaptation.

 Photo credit for all pictures: Yang Niu.

Can you find the Corydalis hemidicentra?  

This isn't an outrageous claim at all. Humans are known to have exerted strong selection pressure on some animal traits, resulting in unintentional evolutionary changes. Examples include bighorn sheep having smaller horns than they used to, keeping trophy hunters at bay allowing the bighorn sheep to survive. In other research, a group of UC Santa Barbara scientists led by Dr. Scott Hodges, an ecology professor, hypothesized that columbine flower color has evolved in North America as a survival mechanism. While red columbines are pollinated by hummingbirds, white and yellow ones are pollinated by hawkmoths. Over time, this color change occurred five times. In this mutually beneficial arrangement, flora and fauna both stand to gain! Score one for natural selection. See if you can spot the hidden plant (Corydalis hemidicentra).

The next time you're out in nature take a close look around you. You may see something you never noticed before in your own neighborhood or gain a fresh perspective on the wonders of plants and nature.



Posted on Friday, February 3, 2023 at 8:25 AM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Give Your Garden Some Love! February Gardening Tips


Febraury gardening tips from the UC Master Gardener Program! February is the perfect time to plant bare root roses for stunning blooms in the spring and summer. Credit: "Roses" by James Jardine is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than to show your garden a little love? February means it is time to start planning and preparing your spring and summer garden. These gardening tips will help you get your garden ready for the spring growing season  

  1. Prune your roses. If you haven't already, cut back a third to half of their total height. Additionally, remove dead parts including old leaves on the bush and ground to improve overall plant health. Watch this video for more detail on how to prune roses. 

  2. Fertilize your citrus trees. Most mature citrus require regular fertilization with nitrogen. Typically, most other nutrients are available in sufficient amounts in the soil. Nitrogen should be applied in January or February just prior to bloom. The second application can be applied in May and perhaps a third in June. Information about fertilizing citrus can be found on the UC Integrated Pest Management website.  

 Suggested application rates of nitrogen 

   Year one (1)                           1 tablespoon nitrogen fertilizer 3 times per year, per tree.
   Year two (2)     0.25 lb. actual nitrogen per tree 
   Year three (3)      0.50 lb. actual nitrogen per tree 
   Year four (4)     0.75 lb. actual nitrogen per tree 
   Year five (5+)     1 lb. actual nitrogen each year 
  1. Plant these trees, shrubs, and perennials.

    •  Bare root deciduous shrubs and trees 
    •  Roses, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, asparagus, chives, onions, green onions.  

  1. Plant cool-season crops like ... lettuce, spinach, and broccoli. These vegetables thrive in cooler temperatures and can be planted directly in the ground or started indoors for transplanting later.  

  2. Start seeds indoors. Get a head start on your vegetable garden and consider starting seeds indoors in February. This will give your plants a jump start on the growing season and allow you to get a head start on your harvest. Here are a few seeds you can start now: 

    •  Garlic
    •  Shallots
    •  Peas
    •  Peppers
    •  Sweet peas 
    •  Tomatoes 

  1. Protect your garden from snails and slugs. As the month progresses, you may start to see more snails in your garden. Make sure to remove them by hand-picking, baiting, or putting up barriers to keep snails and slugs out of your garden. Learn about snails and slug management from UC IPM.  

February is a great time for gardeners in California to plan, prepare, and get an early start growing their gardens for the upcoming season. From planting cool-season vegetables to starting seeds indoors, to protecting your garden from pests, there are many ways to get a head start on your garden. So make the most of this month and show your love for your garden and your special someone on Valentine's Day.  

Ask your local UC Master Gardener Program 

Have a gardening question? UC Master Gardener volunteers are available to help. Click here to Find a Program and connect with your local UC Master Gardener Program. You will be redirected to your local county website and contact information. UC Master Gardener volunteers are available to help answer questions for FREE. Happy gardening!  

Posted on Thursday, February 2, 2023 at 2:38 PM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Now Accepting Submissions for the Search for Excellence

Submissions for the UC Master Gardener Search for Excellence (SFE) competition are now being accepted thru May 1, 2023.  The SFE competition happens triennially and coincides with the statewide UC Master Gardner conference taking place October 2 - October 6, 2023 at Granlibakken Tahoe. UC Master Gardener volunteers, program coordinators and advisors from around the state are invited to submit their innovative educational and outreach projects for consideration. 

Search for Excellence winner poster display from the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference. Photo Credit: Marcy Sousa

The Search for Excellence guidelines and submission guide are available on the 2023 UC Master Gardener Conference website: ucanr.edu/sites/23MGConference/SFE/. For questions about submitting a project, contact your local program coordinator or advisor to discuss and get approval.

Search for Excellence Recognition and Prizes

The top three winning submission are individually recognized and celebrated at the conference during the awards banquet dinner. Winners are given the opportunity to present their project to fellow UC Master Gardener volunteers from across the state during the Search for Excellence Session at the 2023 Conference. Cash prizes will be awarded to the three highest scoring entries among seven counties. 

1st place = $1500 GRAND PRIZE
2nd place = $1000
3rd  place = $500


Important Dates

  • Submission Guideline and Guide posted online January 2023
  • Submissions accepted February 1 – May 1, 2023
  • Winners contacted end of June 2023
  • Winners announced publicly July 2020
  • Conference: October 2 – October 6, 2023, 2020


Explore past winners


Questions? Contact: 

Search for Excellence Chair
Email: mgsfe@ucanr.edu 
Include county name in subject line for all email communications
Email checked weekly

Posted on Wednesday, February 1, 2023 at 12:06 PM
Tags: SFE (5), UCMG2023 (1)

How to Celebrate Seed Swap Day this Month

Check if there are any seed swap day events in your area! "Seed packets - seed swap" by Local Food Initiative is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Will you be participating in National Seed Swap Day this year? Seed swap day will take place on Saturday, January 28th, and is a reminder that spring is soon on its way! The first official seed swap day was held on Jan. 26, 2006, in Washington, DC. It was a day when gardeners, farmers, and plant enthusiasts came together to swap seeds from their best plants.

National Seed Swap Day is a great opportunity for people to share their favorite varieties of seeds, as well as to try out new varieties that they may not have had access to before. Collecting and exchanging seeds has many benefits ranging from preserving rare, heirloom varieties to saving money on seeds. Not to mention that the exchange of seeds perpetuates and improves biodiversity and promotes the ultimate form of recycling within your local area.

All gardeners ranging from novices to horticulture experts can benefit from the long-honored practice and tradition of seed swapping.

There are a variety of ways to swap seeds. Here are some suggestions:

  • Check to see if your local library has a seed library.

  • Find local seed swap groups on social media. 

  • Have a seed swap party with friends and neighbors. Everyone can bring their excess seeds to swap.

  • Support your local seed library with seed or financial donations.

  • Spread awareness about seed swapping by posting on social media.

Advice to Grow by… Ask Us!

UC Master Gardener volunteers are a great resource to connect with new and experienced gardeners for your vegetable gardening needs. From seed to harvesting your crops, the UC Master Garden Program has it covered. UC Master Gardeners are available in most counties to support your home gardening questions by e-mail, telephone, or ZOOM. In addition, UC Master Gardener Program public education events allow you to ask your questions face to face.

Click here to 'Find a Program' and be directed to your local county-based program. You will be redirected to your local county website and contact information.

"Community Seed Swap" by Howard County Library System is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Make your own seed packets this seed swap day from plants in your garden and share them with friends and neighbors.

Homemade seed packets

Build your personal seed library and increase it's diversity by participating in a seed exchange
Build your personal seed library and increase it's diversity by participating in a seed exchange

Seed packets in mason jars

Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at 10:19 AM
Tags: Seed swapping (1)
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

How to Care for Flood and Water-Damaged Plants

A flooded backyard in Elk Grove, Calif. following exceptional amounts of rain in January. Taking steps to improve drainage and reduce water damage following flooding is crucial to the health of your plants and lawn. Photo credit: Erica Schroepfer, used with permission.

Proper irrigation and drainage are critically important for the health of plants and trees. But what happens when Mother Nature throws an atmospheric river curveball, and your yard or garden is now under water from heavy rains or floods?

Good garden soil contains a network of pore spaces filled with water and air. Both are necessary for healthy roots and beneficial soil-dwelling organisms. When the pore spaces fill with water, air is no longer available to the root system, and the roots become susceptible to root-rot organisms. Understanding the effects of flooding on plant health and caring for them after a flood event is important to saving your plants and garden.

Once the floodwaters have receded, assess the damage to your garden and begin the recovery process. There are a few things you can do to minimize the damage to your plants from flooding:

  1. Remove any debris, such as mud and silt, that may have shifted and accumulated on your plants. 

  2. If the soil is waterlogged, improve drainage by digging ditches or furrows to redirect water away from plants. 

  3. Check the soil for compaction and loosen it up with a garden fork. This will help to improve drainage and make it easier for water and nutrients to reach the roots of your plants. 

  4. Wait until the soil dries out before working with it in order to reduce additional compaction. Avoid walking on waterlogged soil to prevent compaction and further root damage. Stay off a boggy lawn!

  5. Inspect your plants for damage to the roots, leaves, and stems. Remove any damaged parts, and prune your plants back to healthy growth if necessary.

  6. Remove contaminated material. Consider that any garden produce touched by floodwater may be contaminated and discard it. While the risk of contamination is low in residential areas, runoff from septic systems, pastures, or industrial areas can carry potentially harmful microbes and chemicals.

  7. Monitor your plants closely for signs of stress, such as wilting or discoloration, and address any issues that arise as soon as possible.

  8. Once dry, start to water your plants gently and gradually to help them acclimate to the new soil conditions. 

Connect with us! 

Recovering from a flood can be a difficult and time-consuming process, but with proper care and attention, your garden can recover and thrive. The UC Master Gardener Program is available to help! For gardening questions and local county resources, click here to Find a Program. You will be redirected to your local county website and contact information. 

Source: Flood: Plant Stress in Extreme Wet Conditions, https://marinmg.ucanr.edu/PROBLEMS/EXTREME_CONDITIONS/Flood/


Avoid walking on waterlogged soil to prevent compaction and further root damage. Stay off a boggy lawn! Photo credit: Erica Erica Schroepfer, used with permission.


Posted on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at 11:44 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

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