At the start of the new year, winter flowering camellias (Camellia japonica) will begin to display their beautiful flowers. The variety pictured here is ‘Higo Ohkan.’
Photo / NC status extension
After the holiday season, we usually dream of warm days and returning to our gardens. Even though it is cold outside, there are some things we can do to prepare our gardens for those warmer days. Use these gardening tips to take advantage of the not-so-cold days of January.
General tips for the garden
- Make sure your tools are ready for the spring growing season. Sharpen any cutting tools you have and change the oil on any power garden equipment.
- Add lime to your garden and landscape if your soil test results recommend adding lime. Lime takes several months to change the soil’s pH, so adding it now will give it time to work before the growing season.
- Control winter weeds such as wild garlic and chickweed with a hot-weather broadleaf herbicide according to the label.
- Avoid heavy traffic on dormant lawns to prevent the crown of the plant from being damaged or killed.
Trees, shrubs and flowers
- At the start of the new year, winter flowering camellias (Camellia japonica) will begin to display their beautiful flowers. Enjoy their show, but be vigilant to pick up and remove any faded flowers that fall to the ground. These fallen flowers are breeding material for petal blight, a fungal disease that can discolor future flowers with ugly brown spots.
- This time of year is a good time to mulch landscaped beds. The beds are easier to access during this time of year when there is less foliage and the plants are dead.
- Water the plants just before a cold snap to help the plants survive bitter temperatures.
- Study the landscape of your home to see what additions or improvements can be made this spring.
- Enjoy winter-flowering perennials such as hellebores, rosemary and camellias.
- Houseplants with large leaves and smooth foliage, such as philodendrons, dracaena, and rubber plants, benefit from having their leaves washed at regular intervals to remove dust and grime, which helps keep the pores of the leaves open.
Fruits, vegetables and herbs
- Order your small fruit plants like strawberries, blueberries and blackberries for planting in mid-March.
- January and February are the periods for pruning the vines.
- You can start fresh seasonal vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, radishes, rutabagas, spinach and turnips) inside from seeds. January. Plant these cool-season vegetables outside in the garden in February.
- Plant asparagus crowns this month when the soil is dry enough to work.
- When reviewing your garden catalogs for new varieties to try, an important consideration is improving resistance to insects and / or diseases. Also watch for drought tolerant types.
Jessica Strickland is an agricultural extension worker specializing in horticulture for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County.