January is a good time to look back on your gardening year and to plan ahead. Walk around your garden, shoot some photos, and make a wish list of your garden’s hopes and dreams.

It is always a good idea to photograph your garden each month as a photo journal of what is blooming when. But also, looking at your garden through the lens is telling. What you see and what others see are often times  two different things. We all have our priorities. What you may pass by everyday and don’t notice  because you got use to looking at it, will show up and be noticed in print, and by others.

It’s no different when seeing oneself in a photograph. Most of us don’t like what we see; we start picking it apart.  Do you like what you see in your garden photographs?  So while it is a good idea to walk around your garden to jot down ideas and list what needs to be done, it is a better idea to evaluate what you see from photographs.

We gardeners tend to plan our gardens to spring and summer showings.  Make your winter garden just as rewarding by planting for winter interest – flowers, color, fruit, textures, and scent.  Take a good look around. January is a good time to look back on your gardening year. Are there things you would like to change? Make a list, keep it handy, and add to it, as necessary, and check off the tasks once completed – its a good feeling.

Another thing to do at the first of the year is to conduct a soil test. Consider this your yearly reminder.


If you will begin to see bulb foliage begin to emerge. It’s OK.  The leaves are hardy and if harmed, they will grow more.  Keep bulbs mulched so they aren’t lifted by heaving resulting from repeated freeze and thaw.

As the tips of your daffodils emerge, add a general 10-10-10 fertilizers or a fertilizer especially designed for bulbs, such as Holland Bulb brand.

If you didn’t fertilize your bulbs with a slow release fertilizer last fall, it is still OK to do.  Apply about a teaspoon per square foot of bed after the foliage emerges.


To keep your pansies happy, apply an organic fertilizer such as bone meal or root simulator fertilizer designed specifically for pansies following the label directions. Re-apply every 4 – 6 weeks.


Semi-evergreen ferns look great in the winter garden.  There are some great ones to choose from including Christmas, Holly, and Autumn.

Late January and February is a good time to dig and divide liriope and mondo grass.  Now is also a good time to cut back liriope before the new growth emerges.  If done before new growth emerges, a lawnmower or string-tirmmer can make short work of this annual task.


The most common Camellias grown in our area are Camellia sasanqua and Camellia japonicas.  C. sasanquas bloom from September to January and tend to have a mass of small flowers (as compared to C. japonicas) blooming all at one time.  C. japonicas bloom from September to March and tend to have a fewer flowers bloom at a time.  Camellias like acid soil with some organic matter in semi-shady conditions.  Camellia sasanquas are also tolerant of some sun.

Figs do fine in many soil types, but perform best in slightly alkaline soil. To aid in this, given our areas natural acid tendencies, add powered dolomite limestone (CaCo3) to the fig bushes.


With black spot so prevalent in our area, rack and clean underneath the rose bushes and discard.  this will help to reduce the amount of disease going into the next growing season.

Check that the crown of the rose bush is still covered. Often times, winter winds can blow mulch away.


Lavender foliage remains a silver-green color during the winter months creating nice interest in the winter months.


Now is the time to plant English (green) peas.  A common mistake is to plant too late in the season.  English peas are very hardy and withstand sub-freezing temperatures.

Indoors or in a cold frame, sow seed of cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.


Plants in the winter still need water. We usually get a gracious plenty of rain in the winter and in the spring, but in times of drought, remember a winter drought can be as severe as a summer one. In fact, a plant planted in the fall that was not watered sufficiently in the winter and dies in the summer is often times blamed as a summer problem when it was more likely caused in the winter. Not that this is much consolation for the dead plant. But it does remind us that plants need water even in the winter.

Pansies have a shallow root system – make sure they get watered weekly, if not by nature, then by you.

For your Plumber…leave the hoses attached to your faucets! Your plumber will love you for it. If this is not the kind of love you seek, remove the hoses from your faucets so they don’t freeze and bust.

Stay on top of your weeding by handpicking your weeds from the grass and beds on a routine basis. Dig up wild onions and garlic as they emerge.  If possible, walk my gardens daily and note what needs to be done, creating a to-do list. Then weekly, work through the list!


Spray for your aphids, scale and mites with a dormant oil. This will help to reduce the number of pest. Wait until the temperature is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer for at least 24 hours.

Look for and remove bagworm pouches hanging in junipers or other narrow-leaf plants.  Fire is an effective way to destroy bagworms.  If not removed, they will begin the cycle again during the next growing season.

Camellias (particularly Camellia japonica) really start to shine in January. To discourage Camellia petal blight, remember to rake spent flowers that have fallen underneath the bushes.


Recycle your Christmas tree to the garden for the birds. Fill with “ornaments” of pine cones covered with peanut butter rolled in birdseed and add some dried cranberries for color and good eats. The birds with thank you and you can reap the rewards of watching them enjoy.

Adding hollies to the landscape brightens up garden with color and food for the wildlife.  



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