January 2007
Featured Articles

PLANT

• Now is an excellent time to transplant mature or established trees and shrubs while they are dormant.

• Sow seeds in flats or containers to get a jump on plant growth. Petunias, begonias, and impatiens should be sown in early January. Warm temperature plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, and periwinkles, should be sown in late January or early February.

• If a live Christmas tree was purchased, plant outdoors as soon as possible.

• January is also a great month to select and plant roses.

• Sow wildflower seeds.

• Plant lettuce, cabbage and broccoli seed in cold frames to transplant within six to eight weeks.

• Prepare to start seeds. Calculate the last frost for your region, then count back five to six weeks for your start date. Sow in seedling mix per instructions on seed packet. Mist as needed to keep soil damp. Watering from bottom encourages stronger root development.

• In water garden, add underwater plants as forage for fish.

FERTILIZE

• Soil test before setting up a fertility program.

• Apply a light application of fertilizer to established pansy plantings. Use one-half pound of ammonium sulfate per 100 square feet of bed area. Repeat the application every 4 to 6 weeks, depending on rainfall. Dried blood meal is also an excellent source of fertilizer for pansies.

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

• Fertilize asparagus beds in late January.

• Seedlings grown in soilless mixes should be fed when the first true leaves appear.

• Feed perennials when they start showing greenery.

• Pecan trees should be fed beginning late in the month with a fertilizer containing zinc.

PRUNE


• Cleanly prune any storm-damaged branches from trees and shrubs.

• January is a great month to prune most deciduous trees and shrubs. Flowering and shade trees can be pruned at this time. Play it safe though and don’t get too happy with the lopers. Do not prune spring flowering plants, like quince, forsythia or spirea, etc. as you would be removing their spring flowers. If needed, these plants can be pruned when the plants have finished flowering.

• It’s a good time to prune many of your trees and shrubs as long as they are not early spring bloomers like rhododendron, azalea, and lilac. Apples, grapes, currants, and gooseberries are candidates. Check a good plant reference for each plant as instructions vary.

• Wait to prune crepe myrtles for more blooms till around Valentines’ Day.

• This is an excellent time to prune that invasive trumpet vine or honeysuckle that is threatening to take over your shrubs. There are plenty of warm sunny days for a chore such as this and it will be much easier now rather than waiting until the spring when everything is green again.

• Prune away dead portions of houseplants.

WATER

• Spot water any dry areas of your landscape to avoid plant desiccation, but do not overwater. Overwatering encourages root rot.

• Water all plants and the lawn in absence of rainfall.

• If a freeze is forecast, well-watered roots are less susceptible to freeze damage.

• Check the potting mix in pots that will be used to force bulbs indoors. The mixture should be evenly moist without standing water. The easiest way to determine moisture is to lift the pots. A dry pot will be lighter than a wet one.

• Water foliage plants as well as other containerized plants only when needed and not by the calendar.

PEST CONTROL


• This is a good time to eliminate slugs. Every slug left to roam the garden will reproduce two hundred off-springs this spring, summer and fall. In addition, the offspring will also reproduce young.

• Spray fruit trees with horticultural oil to kill insects, eggs, and larvae. Early winter is a good time to make an application of Dormant spray to help control over-wintering insect and disease problems. A combination Lime Sulfur and Oil spray or Copper spray are the ones most often used for winter dormant spraying. Do not spray when the temperatures are below freezing; or when it is raining; or at a time when the wind is blowing.

• Check junipers and other narrow-leaf evergreens for bagworm pouches. The insect eggs overwinter in the pouch, and start the cycle again by emerging in the spring to begin feeding on the foliage. Hand removal and burning of the pouches are ways of reducing the potential damage next spring.

• Watch for rabbit, field mice or other rodent damage on lower trunks of trees and shrubs. Control measures include tree wraps, mesh guards, baits, weed control to remove hiding places and traps.

• Watch for grass fungus (brown patch, take-off, etc.), FL Weed-Out, Spectrum Weed Stop.

• To control existing winter weeds in the dormant lawn in January, February, and very early March use a post-emergence herbicide to kill existing weeds, and keep your lawn mowed at recommended heights for your type of lawn grass. Most winter weeds cannot tolerate close mowing and will be stressed, damaged, or even killed by mowing heights used on warm-season lawns. Plan to use a preemergence herbicide next fall to kill next year’s crop. If you have had several winter weeds to mature and produce seed, you will certainly have the potential for a big weed crop next winter. Make notes and plans now.

• Handpull winter annuals such as common chickweed and henbit.

• To control mealy bugs, spider mites, scale on houseplants use insecticidal soap.

ODD JOBS

• If you are preparing a new border, now is the time to mix compost, lime or other amendments into the bed. Make sure soil is not wet. If it does not crumble easily in your hand, let it dry out.

• Now is also the time to prepare your site for roses. Make sure soil is not wet. Dig and work the soil thoroughly over as large an area as possible. Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost or other organic matter. Add limestone to increase soil pH (if recommended by soil-test). Mix material into bed 8 to 12 inches deep. Allow the bed to settle for a few days before planting.

• On warm days, take a look at the bare bones of your garden structure. See where plants can be placed and which plants might need to be moved.

• Make a growing chart to determine where and when you need to plant. • Organize your seed packets (not only your flowers, remember vegetables and herbs too) for your sowing schedule.

• Spring will be here before you know it, so get those pruners and loppers sharpened.

• Graft pecans over entire state and start grafting camellias in south Alabama.

• Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous ornamental shrubs and trees for propagation.

• Prune branches of forsythia for indoor forcing.

• Check the cold frame for signs of trouble. On warm, sunny days, vent the cold frame.

• Check stored bulbs and tubers for signs of damage or rot. Discard any that are bad. For dahlias, cut out the bad spots, then dust with sulphur. Store in vermiculite or sawdust.

• Organize pots, soil, heating mats, and lights for growing from seed.

• Clean yard of any downed or broken branches. Tie any vines or climbers that have come loose from their supports.

• Make flower and vegetable garden plans now before the rush of spring planting. Time spent in armchair gardening before the fireplace will pay off in improved plant selection.

• The life of the plant received as a Christmas gift can be prolonged with proper care. Keep the soil moist, but provide drainage so that excess moisture can flow from the pot. Keep the plant out of range of heating ducts and away from heating units. Keep in a cool room at night, preferably at 60 to 65 degrees F.

• If you’ve procrastinated on tool care, now is the time to make sure the mower is serviced and other tools are clean and sharp.

• Propagate split-leaf philodendrons and other leggy indoor plants by air-layering.

• Check houseplants for insects and repot root-bound plants. 

• Make sure indoor plants are receiving enough light with the shorter days and low sun angle.

• Houseplants will enjoy a "shower" to clean off leaves. Place plants into a bathtub or on a porch and gently spray with lukewarm water. Clean off leaves of large plants with a damp soft cloth. To clean plants with felty leaves, such as African violets, use a small brush and brush off leaves - do not clean leaves with water. 

• Catch up on garden reading and incorporate a few new ideas into this year’s plan.

• Start a gardening journal for the new year. Wire coil sketchbooks work well for notes, planning, ideas, germination times, and results. You’ll enjoy it next winter when you plan the next season’s garden and appreciate the wealth of accurate information.

• Feed the birds!