Lenten Rose


Winter blooming Hellebore is showing off its blooms right now. Helleborus orientalis or Lenten Rose is an often overlooked star in the winter garden, blooming for as long as 4 months, the 2 ft. high perennial deserves a mention as a great addition to a shade garden.

It is a classic, old-fashioned garden flower for shade; a wonderful addition.  It is hardy and easy to grow; known to outlive the gardeners who love it and it blooms in shade.

Lenten Rose, It may be old-fashioned, but the collection now includes new hybrids and cultivars with interesting colors from wine-red to chartreuse.

lentinHellebores grow in moist organic, well-drained soils. Perfect for a woodland garden. They are hardy and long-lived, and we have a number of them blooming in the nursery now…. consider where you might plant one or more!




Citrus Suffering from Yellow Leaves

Citrus tree with yellow leaves
Restore the green color to yellow leaves of citrus and other evergreen shrubs

Citrus plants often suffer from yellow leaves. The same can be said of other acid loving plants. Yellowing leaves are usually related to low fertility, alkaline soils, or low levels of available iron.

Citrus food can address the fertility, Iron Sulfate or Soil Sulfur can improve the soil pH by steering alkaline soils toward acid, both make the existing iron in surrounding soil more available to the plant.  Iron Sulfate also adds additional iron for quicker nutrient uptake.

Our citrus grower recommends a little bit of citrus fertilizer each month of the year. (Calculate the annual supply of fertilizer needed for your citrus tree by reading the fertilizer bag, then divide the whole quantity by 12 to determine your monthly dose).

We also recommend treating the soil with either Soil Sulfur or Iron Sulfate 3 times a year.  Now is an ideal time because remaining rains will carry these products down into the soil. The impending spring growth will benefit immediately from this nutrient blast. Iron products such as Iron Sulfate help prevent yellow leaves on citrus, azaleas, and camellias and also keep a lawn greener with less mowing.

Products containing iron can stain paving. Take extra precautions to be sure you don’t stain your patio or driveway.

Plants take nutrients up from the soil most efficiently when soil pH is neutral or slightly acidic. pH Adjuster Plus gently acidifies the soil and allows nitrogen, iron and other essential nutrients and elements to be released for uptake by plant roots. Apply these granular products over the soil surface and let the rain water them in. The end result is a healthier, more beautiful plant with brighter, greener foliage.

pH Adjuster Plus is a pelletized soil sulfur that is much easier to apply than more conventional soil sulfur (no annoying dust).

Almost all plants will appreciate 2 to 3 applications per year but those plants that respond most dramatically to a pH adjustment include citrus, blueberries, camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons, gardenias and other plants that develop a seasonal yellowing of the leaf related to iron chlorosis. Most likely you can think of at least one plant you have around your home that suffers from leaf yellowing. Apply and then water or time your application to let winter rains do the watering for you.

Magnesium Sulfate has also shown to have a great greening effect.  A little bit goes a long way and should only be applied twice a year; once in early spring and again in early fall.

February Vegetable Garden Guide

Vegetable Plant Time Amount, family
of 4
Special Notes Plant Now
Artichoke Year ’round 3 – 4 plants Permanent, perennial. Bare root
Beets February – April then again in August 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Seeds
Brussels Sprouts August – February 15 – 20 ft. row N/A From Starts
Cabbage August – February 10 – 15 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts
Cabbage, Chinese August – February 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts
Carrots Year ’round 20 – 30 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Seed
Celery August – February 20 – 30 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts
Chard August – February 3 – 4 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seed
Chives Year ’round 1 clump Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts
Leeks August – February 10 ft. row N/A From Seed
Lettuce August – February 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Starts
Mustard August – April 10 ft. row N/A From Starts
Onions (bulb) November – March 30 – 40 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Bulbs
Onions (green) August – February —- Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Starts
Parsley Year ’round 1 – 2 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts
Potatoes February – March 50 – 100 ft. row N/A From Bulbs
Radishes Year ’round 4 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Seed
Rhubarb December – February 2 – 3 plants Bare root in November – January, Canned in February – April and again in September and October. Bare root
Strawberries June – September 12+ plants 6-Packs on-hand now. 6-Packs Soon
Turnips February – August 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Seeds

Have you Tried Growing Your Own Potatoes?

potato-russetPotatoes have arrived. Why not give your taste buds a treat by growing your own potatoes for fresh cooking.  They taste remarkably better fresh and growing them is easy; winter rains and cool temperatures take care of them for much of the season, and when harvest time comes they taste far superior to store bought.  Our most popular varieties, as well as specialty spuds, are in stock now.

Here is our Collection.

This wonderful boiling potato is easy to grow and tasty. excellent for salads.

It will produce potatoes that have bright red skins and white flesh. They are ideal for boiling with no darkening after cooking.

Very similar to Idaho’s famous Burbank. The good old fashioned baking potato with the rough skin. This one is much more disease resistant than the Burbank and very productive too.

An early potato maturing in 65+ days. Buttery yellow flesh is delicious. Variety makes a good steamer/boiler or use in salads.

Organic Varieties in 5 per pack bags:

  • Cherry Red
  • Russet Norkotah
  • Yukon Gold
  • Purple Majesty
  • Sangre Red
  • Yellow Finn
  • Russian Banana
  • Rose Finn Apple
  • Blue Belle

Planting Tips

Preparing the Soil
Potatoes prefer a loose well-drained soil. We need to lighten our heavy clay soils by mixing at least 3″ of MASTER NURSERY PLANTING MIX into the top 6″-12″ of soil; you’ll need 3 bags for each 50 square feet of planting area. In addition, incorporate two pounds of MASTER NURSERY 0-10-10 to encourage root and stem growth, and two pounds Iron Sulfate to buffer the soil pH.

Choose “Certified Potatoes”
Our potatoes have been inspected to assure they are disease-free and are ready to be planted in your garden. Potatoes purchased from the Supermarket have been treated with a sprouting retardant making them marginal for use in the garden. Choose from our improved selection which includes many of the popular new colored varieties.

Cut and Dry the Potatoes
Cut the potatoes into chunky 1 ½” square pieces with at least two eyes. Spread them in a single layer (cut side up) and allow to air dry at least overnight, until the cut surfaces are dry to the touch. The air dried cut pieces are less likely to rot in the cool wet soil. Dusting with sulfur before planting will further decrease the chance of disease infection.

Form rows that are 4″ deep and 2′ apart. Set the seed potato pieces in rows, cut side down, 12″ – 18″ apart. Do not plant if the soil is very wet, but be sure to water thoroughly after planting.

Hilling Up
The potatoes will form above, not below, the planted pieces. When the plants reach 5″ – 6″ tall, draw up loose soil (or a soil/straw mix) around the plants so that only 2″ of stem is exposed. Hill soil up again in 2-3 weeks. This gives the potatoes a light soil to expand into as they grow.

Water & Feed
After growth begins, give the plants regular deep watering (once per week). Feed potatoes monthly with MASTER NURSERY TOMATO AND VEGETABLE FOOD, a balanced fertilizer.

This along with the MASTER NURSERY 0-10-I0 and Iron Sulfate incorporated at planting completes the nutritional requirements.

Dig early or “new” potatoes when plant tops begin to flower, dig mature potatoes when tops die down. Dig carefully to avoid bruising or cutting the potatoes. Store in a dark place at approximately 40 degrees.

As always, check with one of our California Certified Nursery Professionals if you have any further questions.

What you will need:

Master Nursery Planting Mix
Master Nursery Tomato & Vegetable Food
Master Nursery 0-10-10
Iron Sulfate

Primroses Brighten Winter Gardens

 blue primroses

For gardening in the shade, don’t  forget Primroses in a multitude of colors. These blooming beauties will flower for the months ahead and bring cheery relief to the dreary spots in your winter garden.

Primroses come in a few different varieties and feature candy store colors for the shade, these last into May and look great with needlepoint ivy or dark green boxwood.

Plant them in Morning sun, bright shade.

We usually grow them as annuals to be replaced at the end of bloom, but technically they are perennials that will grow on year after year.

And for fabulous flower beds in sun . . . Spectacular flower beds can be yours with just a little pre-planning and a trip to Alden Lane Nursery. You can still plant your flower beds with  Alyssum, Calendula, Dianthus, Iceland Poppies, Violas, Stock, and Pansies. Read more about winter color options here.

Also coming toward the end of March you will be able to plant Bachelor buttons, Fibrous Begonias and Lobelia, Marigolds, Petunias, and impatiens.

Begonia Tubers are Here

Tuberous begonias arrive as bulbs (tubers) now and grow to bloom throughout the summer. They are Ideal for north facing areas, they thrive in shady spots where few other plants with long bloom periods and showy flowers can grow. Gardeners like their versatility; planting them as container plants on patios and porches, in hanging baskets, and as bedding plants. Their beautiful flowers come in a variety of colors and forms. Red, orange, yellow, white, salmon and pink blooms may be plain, ruffled or fringed; their petals may have margins, crests or blotches of contrasting color.

Plant Tuberous Begonias in a well-draining, rich soil, preferably in a container, (for improved drainage).

Plant in Master’s Pride Professional Potting Soil enriched with Master Nursery Bulb Food.

Plant the cup-shaped tubers concave surface, or “cup” up and cover with just 1/2″ of soil.  Completely wet the soil and don’t water again until they begin to grow.




Feed begonias as they reach 2″ with Maxsea Acid Fertilizer.


February Garden Checklist

Choose your Camellias now! Seeing is believing, so choose now while they are in bloom. The selection is great and you’ll be able to pick just the right color for your winter garden.

Seed Potatoes are available January into March. Choose from certified disease-free white, red and russet, blue and gold varieties. Harvest new potatoes when plants begin to bloom in June and more mature potatoes when plants begin to die down in midsummer. Pick up our handy planting guide.

Feed the lawn monthly even during cold winter months. This not only maintains its attractive green color all winter it also minimizes rust disease and other problems resulting from malnutrition. Masters Fall and Winter Lawn Fertilizer is formulated for the winter season.

Prevent crabgrass in your lawn before it starts. Apply Bonide Crabgrass & Weed Preventer now to prevent crabgrass seeds from sprouting.

Place three inches of mulch around trees, shrubs, and flowerbeds to keep weeds under control. Keep the mulch away from the trunks of trees and shrubs as well as the stems of bedding plants to prevent crown rot.

Prevent Petal Blight. Pick up and remove old flowers on camellias and azaleas to reduce the chance of petal blight. If you have had trouble with petal blight before, treat soil around the plants with Captan before flowers open.

A blooming orchid for your love this Valentine’s Day says it best! Choose from an assortment of fragrant blooming bulbs, African violets, cyclamen and lush houseplants.

Prune evergreen shrubs and hedges such as boxwood between mid-February and early March so that pruning cuts are quickly covered with spring’s new growth. (Leave frost tender plants like citrus to prune later.) Prune strap leafed New Zealand Flax and African Iris to 4″ if a biennial renewal is wanted. Foliage will grow back with a fresh crop of gorgeous leaves.

Apply Iron-Sulfur or non-staining Iron Plus now to help restore and maintain good green color in acid loving plants such as citrus, camellia, azalea, gardenias, Japanese Maples, and Blueberries as well as many others including jasmine and photinia.


Get Your Maples Ready For Spring!

Join Japanese Maple expert, Barry Hoffer on Saturday, February 4th from 1-2 pm.

He will discuss proper pruning, in-ground and container planting along with root pruning.  There’s something for everyone.  

Call to reserve your spot in this informational class.

Gladiolus – Dramatic & Easy to Grow

Gladiolus bulbs or corms come into the nursery now and bloom in summer. They produce long, thick stems with six to eight tightly packed blossoms on only one side. Their bright and dramatic colors make great garden accents for the long, hot summer days.

If you plant Gladiolus every two weeks you will have a kaleidoscope of very colorful flowers throughout the summer. They are ideal in a sunny massed garden or landscape planting and have unsurpassable beauty as a long-lived cut flower.

Glads are most often grown in the garden for the blooms.  You could clump them as an accent in an ornamental landscape, but more often they are grown like a crop, in a row for cutting.

Plant them in loosened soil that has been amended with Gold Rush compost and Master Start fertilizer.

Plant corms 3-4 inches deep.  In our climate, they can winter over without harm of freezing.  Typically we plant them as the soil warms in spring and then plant successive batches to continue bloom through summer.  They take about 9 weeks to bloom from the time they are planted.

Give gladiolus moderate water most weeks, more in summer and watch out for the frustrating insect pest known as thrips.

Thrips like to wiggle down into the just-budding blossoms and discolor your blooms.  Be prepared by spraying with Bonide Captain Jack’s Pest Control just before the buds open.


Tips for Pruning Roses

obj6306geo2742pg239p7[1]The suggested time for pruning roses is January in Northern California. Even though your roses may still be leafy, budded or blooming it is time to force them to rest. Pruning them back now, removing every single leaf and dormant spraying with copper will provide a healthy beginning for the coming season.

If you missed our rose pruning classes, here are some tips:

What You’ll Need:

  • Body armor – safety or prescription glasses, a hat, and a long-sleeved sweatshirt will go a long way insulating you from thorny branches; a good pair of leather gloves (the new gauntlet types do a good job of protecting your forearms);
  • Pruning shears – sharp hand shears along with a long-handled lopper and a pruning saw are helpful for hard to reach or extra large wood;
  • Pruning seal – black asphalt or new latex types (sealing cuts prevents the cane borer insect from invading and killing stems);
  • Copper dormant spray like Monterey Liqui-Cop to control over-wintering diseases.

For specific variety and form (bush, miniature, tree & shrub) pruning tips, come in and one our rose experts will the happy to help. In the mean time here are some pruning basics. For the most part, roses produce flowers on current season growth. Therefore, the more new growth you have the more bloom potential you’ll enjoy. Pruning is one way of stimulating new growth.

If your bush form roses have grown sky high lop off the top one-quarter to one-third of the plant so you can more easily and safely do the ‘fine pruning’. For bush and tree forms you always want to maintain evenly spaced canes (stems) around the outside of the plant. The number of canes that you leave depends on the vigor of the plant. Three to seven is the rule in the case of bush roses. Tree roses rarely sprout new canes as they age so encourage and maintain those well-spaced branches. The final height of the canes depends on the variety and vigor of the plant.

We have gotten away from pruning roses to within an inch of their life (6-12 inches). The general rule is to prune back by at least 1/3rd, and no more than 1/2. Leaving the canes a bit longer provides the plant with extra energy for the coming season’s performance. Prune to an outside bud (where a leaf was). This will ensure that the next branch will grow in an outward direction. On both tree and bush roses remove all twigs and stems that are growing into the center of the plant. The extra sunlight will warm the bud union (the central base of the plant from which the rose variety that you have selected has been budded onto the rose rootstock). This encourages more young stems to grow that will be eventually selected to replace the older canes. The extra sunlight also stimulates increased flower production.

Always remove any stems coming from below the bud union. These suckers are vigorous and can over-grow the desirable rose. If your white or pink rose is producing small red flowers it has been taken over by the rootstock rose.

Maintain a nice compliment of permanent climbing rose canes that you will arch against the fence, wall or train over an arbor. The stems that grow off these permanent canes are pruned back to four buds. The resulting new growth will produce a mass of flowers. There are always exceptions to the rule so touch base with our rose experts for just the right pruning guidance.


Savory Ways with Clementines

Ripening in gardens now, Clementines and other tangerines can be used in unexpected, delicious ways. They also look great in the garden!

Make a tempting winter salad of endive, frisée, or radicchio (or a mix), and clementine sections and toss with a vinaigrette made with a little clementine juice. Top with a thin slab of Roquefort and some toasted almonds.

For a tangy clementine sauce, simmer and reduce clementine juice by half, add just a touch of white wine vinegar and a little lemon juice. Season and serve over steamed vegetables, such as asparagus or artichokes.

Jazz up a salad of Bulgar, orzo, or wild rice with chopped clementines, scallions, toasted pecans, and lots of parsley. Dress it with a vinaigrette made with olive oil and lemon and clementine juices.

Give an unexpected twist to a pot roast or braised short-ribs by adding the juice of one clementine and a little bit of grated zest when you begin the braise.

See our citrus planting guide.