Plant Answers  >  Gardening Calendar: January

Gardening Calendar


Plant: Bare-root and containerized fruit trees, blackberries and grapes should be selected and planted as soon as possible so they will be well established before spring growth begins. The selection of recommended varieties of fruit and nut trees is critical for long-term success. For a listing of recommended fruit and nut trees, see:

Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs can still be planted. Roses should be planted in mid-February. Should you need to transplant established trees and shrubs, do so now while they are still dormant and will have sufficient time to re-establish a root system before spring growth begins. Remove at least one-third to one-half of the top growth of bare-root plants (not necessary with container-grown plants) to compensate for roots lost in the transplanting process. Obviously, January is the best month to plant trees but as with fruit and nut trees, selection of adapted species is critical for long-term success. Select trees for permanence and durability, not just for fast growth. A listing of the best adapted tree species can be obtained at the local county Extension agent's office or from PLANTanswers at:

Bare-root roses are excellent if available in your area; otherwise, choose containerized plants. The most durable roses can be found at:

After mid-month, begin planting transplants of asparagus, cabbage, leeks, onions and shallots. It is still time to transplant pansies, dianthus, stock, calendulas and other cool-season annual flowers. Protect small plants against severe cold until they are well established.

Prune: January and February are the best months to do any major fruit or ornamental tree and shrub pruning. Prune deciduous trees now while you can see damaged or rubbing limbs, misshaped parts, etc. Do not top the trees. This is the ideal time to prune oak trees to avoid the possible spread of oak wilt. Early spring is also the time when the fungal mats are actively producing spores. Avoid pruning between February 15 and June 15, the period for maximum insect and fungal mat activity. When possible prune trees between December 1 and February 1, or between July 1 and October 1. Wait until mid-February to prune roses. Mistletoe can be pruned from trees infested with this parasite.

On the Lookout For: Wait until temperatures are expected to be above freezing for at least 48 hours to apply a dormant oil spray to euonymus, hollies, oaks, pines, pecans, and fruit trees which are prone to scale. To prevent damage, cover any actively growing flowering annuals or overseeded lawn areas to avoid contact with the dormant oil spray. Follow label directions carefully to ensure good results without damage. Be on the alert for the threat of severe freezes, and be prepared to protect tender plantings. Provide adequate moisture if severe freeze is predicted. Use a "breathing" spun-web cover such as GrowWeb (Plant Guard, Plant Shield or Reemay). In severe (low 20s) freezes use the spun-web products covered with plastic to keep the plastic from touching and killing the foliage.

Odd Jobs: If you have planted cereal rye (Elbon rye) in the garden area for nematode control and as a green manure source, shred and till that area of the garden which you will plant in February. The remaining portion of the garden planted in rye can remain and be shredded-tilled 30 days prior to planting that section. Select and order gladiolus corms for February and March planting. If there are any bagworm pouches or bags hanging on the junipers and other shrubs, try to remove them and destroy by burning.

January Calendar by Dr. Tom Harris


· Bluebonnets will have an active growth spurt in February and March. Protect them and pansies from slugs and snails with labeled baits or beer traps.

· Use water-soluble fertilizers or hibiscus food for bougainvilleas and other plants that are actively growing in the greenhouse. Bougainvilleas will bloom all winter if they are in a greenhouse. Keep watering and fertilizing.

· Many tulips, daffodils, and other spring bulbs emerge and bloom this month. They benefit from nitrogen fertilization at the rate of two cups of slow-release lawn fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed.

· Don't prune blooms on early-blooming plants like Indian hawthorn, mountain laurel, flowering peach, ornamental cherry, climbing roses, althea, etc. Wait until after bloom is complete.

· Keep your living Christmas tree well watered (once per week) during the establishment period (2-3 months.)

· Lightly fertilize pansies with ½ pound of 21-0-0 or blood meal per 100 square feet of bed.

Turf Grass
· If you don't receive an inch of rain, water the lawn, ½ inch every 2-3 weeks is enough. Buffalo, zoysia and bermuda grasses are dormant-don't water them.

· It's a good time to aerate with the plug-cutter type and then top dress with a half-inch of compost.

· Don't fertilize or use weed-and-feed products. If there is weed growth, mow every 3-4 weeks.

· Gradually build up low spots in the lawn with ½-1 inch of compost or top-dressing. Be sure the leaves of the grass stick through the compost so as not to smother the grass.

· Service the lawn mower by sharpening the blade, change the spark plug, change the oil, and drain old gasoline.

· If you pluck or cut individual leaves from lettuce or spinach, they will continue to produce into late spring. Keep the broccoli, cauliflower, chard and Brussels sprouts harvested (use a sharp knife) to maintain quality and production.

· Keep your cauliflower heads bleached by covering them with leaves held in place by a clothes pin or rubber band.

· Harvest broccoli heads before the flowers open.

· If you notice cabbage loopers in broccoli and other cole crops, use Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis)

· By the end of the month, thin onions you planted in October and November so that plants are 4-6 inches apart. This will allow maximum bulbs to develop.

· Side dress actively growing vegetables at the rate of one cup of slow-release lawn fertilizer per 10 feet of row. Use two cups for leafy vegetables and onions.

· It's time to start tomato and pepper seeds if you have a greenhouse.

· You may want to plant some potatoes this month. Dig a trench about one foot deep and place potato pieces with one or more eyes every foot. Fill the trench half way with good, loose soil and keep filling as the stems emerge.

· Plan flower and vegetable beds now.


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