- Author: Leonard Cicerello
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leonard Cicerello, UCCE Master Gardener
“I planted a peach tree three years ago, and the tree has not produced one decent peach.”
Kathleen H. Cayucos
UC Master Gardeners have to be vigilant when we're asked gardening questions. Our response often begins by asking home gardeners where they live. Our coastal microclimates in Cambria and Morro Bay differ greatly from the inland climates of Paso Robles and Atascadero.
Microclimates are assessed by relative temperature, humidity, amount of sunshine, marine layer, air movement, and soil. Seasonal temperatures would be the most important factor in selecting the right plant for your site. Selecting the right plant for the right place is particularly important for fruit and nut bearing plants. Flowering plants, such as azaleas and camellias, also require a specific climate in order to bloom as expected.
When plant shopping, take time to read plant tags and ask an employee about any special needs of the plant you're contemplating. If you're looking for a fruit or nut tree, know how many chill hours your microclimate offers before making any purchases. Nursery plant tags will show the minimum number of chill hours fruiting trees require.
All fruit and nut bearing trees and plants have a dormant period, during which they must be exposed to temperatures below 45 degrees for a certain length of time to set fruiting buds. The length of time fruit and nut trees must be exposed to these colder temperatures is referred to as chill hours and the requirement varies by variety. There are scores of hybrid fruit and nut bearing plants, and each has its own minimum requirement of chill hours. Two notable exceptions include avocados and citrus, which do not require chill hours.
Coastal areas with a heavy marine influence do not get as cold as the inland areas. However, plant breeders have been masterful at developing fruit and nut trees that require fewer chill hours and will do well in these coastal areas. Local nurseries typically sell what grows well in the region. Do your research before shopping. Whether you want to grow something edible or ornamental, matching a plant's climatic requirements with your microclimate will improve your chances of gardening success.
Our Advice to Grow By Workshops are back!!!
Our next workshop will be September 17th, 2022, at 10:00 to 12:00 p.m. in our Seven Sisters demonstration garden at 2154 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. The topic will be “Tool Maintenance and Repair” and “Rainwater Collection for Home gardeners”. Register at http://ucanr.edu/atgbtools
You can also view workshops on Instagram live at slo mg or visit our You Tube channel at “San Luis Obispo County UC Master Gardeners.”
Our physical offices are now open!!!!!
Covid may still affect staffing levels, so it is best to call before heading to your local Helpline office:
San Luis Obispo: 805-781-5939 (Monday and Thursday 1:00 to 5:00)
Arroyo Grande: 805-473-7190 (10:00 to 12:00)
Templeton: 805-434-4105 (Wednesday 9:00 to 12:00)