Bulbs for indoor display. Try this technique for forcing bulbs into late-winter bloom indoors: Refrigerate bulbs of daffodils, hyacinths, paperwhite narcissus, and tulips for eight weeks, then plant them in containers of potting soil mixed with a spoonful of controlled-release fertilizer. Space so the bulbs are just touching with tips protruding from the soil; water gently. Place the containers in a cool, low-light location for one week. Then take them into a warm, well-lit room to bloom.
Bulbs for outdoor beds. Plant bulbs that require minimal winter chill and water. Good choices include Crocus ancyrensis 'Golden Bunch', C. chrysanthus 'Advance' and 'Gypsy Girl', and C. vernus 'Pickwick' and 'Yellow Mammoth'. Other possibilities include Afghani iris (I. cycloglossa), all I. reticulata varieties, rain lily (Zephyranthes), Scilla siberica 'Spring Beauty', and spring star flower (Ipheion uniflorum 'Wisley Blue'). All are available from High Country Gardens in Santa Fe ( www.highcountrygardens.com or 800/925-9387).
Cool-season flowers. Sunset climate zones 10-13: Sow seeds of clarkia, nasturtiums, and sweet peas. Set out transplants of ageratum, calendula, candytuft, coreopsis, dianthus, English daisies, foxgloves, larkspur, lobelia, pansies, petunias, scabiosa, snapdragons, and sweet alyssum.
Cool-season vegetables. Zones 10-13: Sow seeds of beets, carrots, kale, leeks, parsnips, peas, radishes, rutabagas, salad greens, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips. Set out transplants of asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.
Landscape plants. Zones 10-13: Through midmonth set out spring-blooming perennials such as autumn sage (Salvia greggii), bush morning glory (Convolvulus cneorum), globe mallow (Sphaeralcea species), Mexican evening primrose, penstemons, red justicia (J. candicans), and verbena. It's also a good time to plant frost-hardy, woody shrubs and trees, including acacia, creosote bush, hop bush, mesquite, Mexican buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa), palo verde, Texas mountain laurel, and woolly butterfly bush.
Succulents. Zones 11-13: Transplant cold-hardy or native succulents such as agave, desert spoon, and yucca.
Adjust irrigation systems. As temperatures cool, water needs decrease. Adapt to this change by increasing the number of days between irrigations, but maintain the length of each watering cycle.
Care for roses. Zones 10-13: Remove spent blossoms, fertilize for the last time this year, and apply a 4-inch layer of compost around plants.
Prepare for frost. If frost is forecast, move container plants to protected locations under trees or overhanging roofs. Water most tender landscape plants so they'll be well hydrated and thus better able to tolerate cold. Do not water cactus and succulents, but cover their tips with a frost blanket or heavy burlap. To protect young citrus trees, hang a lightbulb or a string of warming Christmas lights in the center of the canopy, then cover with frost blanket or old sheets.
Prune herbs. Zones 11-13: Prune marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and thyme to remove woody stems and encourage fresh new growth.