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April 12, 2001|ROBERT SMAUS

Things to do this week:

* Plant citrus. Have you smelled the incredibly fragrant flowers of Valencia oranges and the several kinds of tangerines that have been blooming these past weeks? In some neighborhoods, it's almost overpowering. They serve as a good reminder that now is the time to plant citrus of all kinds. Remember to keep new trees thoroughly watered at first and to lightly fertilize with a liquid every few weeks. "Lightly" means to use about half the recommended monthly amount found on the fertilizer label.

At the nursery and growing grounds, the trees were fed regularly and so have grown to expect it. They need your help, at least until their roots stretch out into the garden where they can forage on their own.

* Go on rose pest patrol. Our cool, wet spring seems to have delayed the opening of flowers on roses and the arrival of pests. Watch closely for the first few holes made by rose slugs (actually sawfly larva), before they chew thousands in your beautiful new rose leaves.

Check every day, and when the first holes appear in leaves, don't hesitate. Spray the foliage with a light horticultural oil that will suffocate young larva. Follow up with a repeat spray two weeks later.

If you know you'll get powdery mildew on certain bushes, prevent it with neem oil (Rose Defense)--which may also help control the sawfly larva--or use the chemical called Funginex.

* Prune bougainvillea. They don't require it, but now is the time to prune bougainvillea that need trimming back or tidying up. There's no special technique, just cut back where needed.

Older bougainvillea that have been in the ground for several years will bloom better if they get almost no water or fertilizer from now on. Some coastal gardeners don't water or feed them at all.

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