January always feels as though we should be coming to the end of the winter cycle, but the sad truth is that we’re not even halfway to spring yet. It’s still chilly outside (and sometimes downright freezing), and the spring thaw is a ways off. But of course, there are still some things to be considered if you’re a gardener (or a wannabe gardener!). Here are a few January tips to get you thinking about your garden once more:
- If you have perennials that are sensitive to frost, make sure they are covered anytime you suspect it might frost overnight. You can drape plastic, burlap, or even sheets over plants to protect them from winter chill. Just make sure you don’t touch the plants with the covering—use stakes or cardboard boxes to raise coverings up. Putting potted plants under eaves or leafy trees also helps.
- Stay away from soggy soil. Full of water, it compresses very easily and can harm tender plant roots. Don’t walk on it, especially if it is a clay soil. If it’s extremely soggy, make sure all plant and tree roots are covered with a new layer of damp soil. This will help protect them once soil begins to dry out.
- If you have plants that have been damaged by frost, don’t prune them yet. We still have a few months to go, so wait until mid-March, when the frost is gone and you can see the extent of the damage.
- If you have hybrid tea roses, now is the time to prune them, or you may not get many new blooms (they bloom on new wood only). Cut back about 1/3 to ½ of the canes, making sure that you leave at least a foot and a half in length. Also prune climbing roses and spray with horticultural oil to kill any insect eggs or other pesky problems like slugs and scales.
- It’s not planting season yet, but now is the time to plan ahead for your garden. Consider what you’ll plant, when you’ll need to do it, and where you’ll put all your new babies come spring. It’s coming faster than you think!