Cut the branches off your Christmas tree and place them over tender plants to catch the snow — it’s the freeze/thaw cycle that kills plants, advises master gardener
There is more you can do than just dream about the return of gardening weather. According to master garden emeritus, John Hethrington, there’s a whole list of tasks you can dig into for the month of January.
Here are some of his tips for gardening chores that should be complete in the first month of the year.
- Inspect house plants for white flies, spider mites and aphids.
- Apply insecticidal soap and spray with water.
- Inspect spring bulbs you may have stored or forgotten about. Discard soft or mouldy ones.
- Plant leftover, not-yet-planted spring bulbs like daffs, tulips etc. in pots with good potting soil and a little bone meal and water them. Put the pots in an unheated garage or garden shed for six weeks. Take them inside in February or early March. You should get spring blooms in less than a month.
- There has certainly been lots of snow! If the traditional January thaw comes and the snow melts away, mound any remaining snow over roses and tender perennials.
- Cut the branches off your Christmas tree and place them over tender plants to catch the snow. It’s the freeze/thaw cycle that kills the plants.
- Expand your personal knowledge through online courses, plus start looking online for seed and plant catalogues.
- Start planning your garden for next spring. I’m already making lists of plants to divide.
- Make detailed lists for big projects, regular maintenance, new plants to buy and plants to divide and donate to any local plant sales in 2023.
- Search online for seed catalogue websites and see hundreds of seed sources.
- Order flower and vegetable seeds. Decide which seeds should be started inside.
- If you can find them, try forcing amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus now for indoor winter bloom that will cheer you up.
- At the end of the month, start the slowest germinating seeds like begonias and geranium, also seeds for early spring bloom e.g., pansy, verbena, alyssum and dianthus.
- Put Triple-19 fertilizer, which is the strong agricultural fertilizer to put on top of the snow, on your flower beds in March before the snow melts away. It will fertilize your gardens all summer long.
John Hethrington has been gardening since the age of nine. He spent his early life gardening in Toronto and earned his certification as a master gardener before moving to Meaford where he cultivates 2.5 acres with 20 different gardens.