January Gardening Tips


This is a perfect month to transplant mature or established trees and shrubs.  With the weather cool and the plant dormant, there will be much less stress than if you transplant in the spring.

Make plans now for spring gardening.  Flower and vegetable catalogs make great reading on cold winter days, so spend some time dreaming about your ideal garden.  Time spent now on planning will translate into gardening success, come spring planting time.

Sow seeds in flats or containers indoors to get a jump on plant growth before hot weather arrives. Petunias, begonias, and impatiens should be sown in early January, but warm season plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, and periwinkles, should be started in late January or early February.

On warm winter days you can begin to prepare beds and garden areas for spring planting.  Till the soil and add any plant-based compost at this time so that when spring arrives, your bed will be ready.

The life of holiday gift plants can be prolonged with proper care. Keep the soil moist, but provide drainage so that excess moisture can flow from the pot, especially if the pot was wrapped in some type of foil for decoration.  Keep the plant out of range of heating ducts, away from heating units, and in a cool room at night, preferably at 60 to 65 degrees F.

Don’t fertilize newly set out trees or shrubs until after they have started to grow, and then only very lightly the first year.

When buying plants, the biggest is not always the best, especially when dealing with bare-root trees and shrubs. Medium to small sized plants (4 to 6 feet) usually establish much more quickly and are more effective in the landscape than larger plants.

Established rose bushes may be pruned from mid-January to mid-February.  Always use good, clean pruning shears that will make clean cuts.  Remove all dead, dying, and weak canes, but leave four to eight healthy canes and remove approximately one-half of the top growth and height of the plant.

Don’t forget, climbing roses should be pruned after they bloom in the spring, not in the winter as other roses.  You may train climbing roses now by weaving long canes through openings in trellises or arbors and tying them with jute twine or plastic/wire plant ties. Securing canes now prevents damage from spring winds and contributes toward a more refined look in the garden once the roses begin to bloom.

Winter is an excellent time to select and plant container-grown roses to fill in those bare spots in your rose garden.

When pruning shrubs, first prune out any dead or damaged branches, then thin the plant out by removing about one-third of the oldest canes or stems at ground level.   Lastly, shape the rest of the plant, but do not cut all of the stems back to the same height.


Revised 02.17

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