January Gardening Tips

Pots & Borders


  • Check Pansies and Primulas for greenfly. It may seem early but they often have aphids on the undersides of leaves now. Spray with Bug Clear Ultra to rid your plants of them.
  • Cut the side branches off your old Christmas tree and use these to cover tender plants in the garden. This will keep the worst of the frost off and yet allow the plant to breathe at the same time.
  • Remove any blotched leaves from Christmas and Lenten Roses (Hellebores) to prevent this disease spreading to the new leaves. We find that our home brewed Compost Tea is the best control for this disease. Add to your hellebore collection from our exciting new colours!
  • Sow Begonia, Lobelia, Salvia and Pelargonium in a heated greenhouse or propagator.
  • If you didn’t sow in autumn, sweet peas can be sown now on a windowsill for the earliest blooms.
  • There is still time to take root cuttings of Phlox, Verbascum and Oriental Poppies. More info on this here.
  • Fork your borders over between established plants but keep off if the soil is wet. Fork in a good base fertiliser such as Vitax Q4. Mulch with ‘Revive’ [recycled green waste]or chipped bark to keep the weeds down.


Trees, Shrubs, Roses, Conifers, etc


  • Apply a general fertiliser to all borders. Growmore, Vitax Q4, Bone meal or Blood Fish and Bone are all good.
  • Gather up and burn diseased leaves from under roses and fruit. This will help to limit the carry-over of disease from one season to the next. Applying a generous mulch helps to suppress the disease infection too. ‘Revive’ or chipped bark is perfect for this.
  • Check tree ties and stakes. Adjust those that are too tight and tighten those that are not! Make   sure the top tie is near to the top of the stake so that it prevents the tree rubbing. Make certain that the stake is still sound and that it isn’t the tree that is holding the stake up!
  • Plant when the weather is mild and when the soil is not wet, sticky or frozen hard. Improve the planting area with well-rotted compost or manure. For bare root plants work some Cleeve Nursery Multipurpose Compost around the roots and add a handful of Blood Fish and Bone or Bone meal.  Stake and tie securely.
  • Protect plants from deer and rabbits where damage is likely. The new product ‘Grazers’ should do this for you. Keep plants weed free and mulch well.
  • Hardy plants to brighten your garden in January –

      Hellebores,                           Cyclamen coum                  Camellias

      Viburnum tinus Eve Price    Mahonias                             Snowdrops

      Lonicera Winter Beauty       Algerian Iris                        Chimonanthus [Wintersweet]

      Witch Hazels                        Winter heathers           Daphne bholua Jacqueline Postill

  • After frost, check around shrubs and roses for signs of soil upheaval and wind-rock. Firm the soil back down with your feet.
  • Root hardwood cuttings this month. Always choose healthy shoots as cuttings. Easy ones to root include Forsythia, Escallonia, Ribes, Cornus and Salix. More info on this here.
  • Trim Virginia Creeper, Boston Ivy, rambling roses and other climbers away from windows, gutters and eaves.
  • Inspect leylandii hedges closely for aphids. This pest leads to dead patches if not controlled with a pesticide now.




  • Buy pots of snowdrops that are now coming into flower. They establish much easier when transplanted in active growth. Winter Aconites too.
  • Plant pots of Iris reticulata into the front of your borders. Add a handful of gravel to the bottom of each planting hole. They will soon be in flower.
  • Established bulb shoots will be showing above ground now and are very tough so will not need protecting. Daffodils in thin walled pots outside will suffer if the pot is not protected from wind driven frosts so move them to more shelter.




  • Regularly remove dead and dying leaves and flowers from plants in the greenhouse. If you leave them, you may have problems with grey mold developing. Regular ventilation on warm days will help to avoid this too. Again, regular application of Compost Tea is a good control.
  • Spray with a systemic fungicide (Fungus Fighter) at the first sign of disease and do this early in the day so that the tops of plants are dry before nightfall. Regular micro-feeding with freshly brewed compost tea [only available locally from Cleeve Nursery] will avoid most disease problems inside and outside. Keep a sharp watch for greenfly as they often appear inside this month. Spray with Provado Ultimate Bug Killer or Bug Clear Ultra as soon as any appear.
  • Sow Ailsa Craig onion seed into cell packs under cover for planting out after the last frost.
  • Wash the glass down to allow maximum amount of light to enter. By using a sterilant such as Jeyes Greenhouse Cleaner you will also kill any over wintering pests such as red spider mite and their eggs.
  • Move potted strawberries inside to begin forcing them for really early crops. They should have experienced enough cold outside to break dormancy by now.


The Indoor Garden


  • Mist over the tops of houseplants regularly especially if they are in a room with central heating. Water carefully; it is better to let plants dry out between watering and then give a thorough soak than a small amount regularly.
  • Clean houseplant leaves with leaf shine. Dusty leaves will struggle in low light at this time of year and polished ones look so much better!
  • Group plants together, the display will look better, but more importantly, they grow better together as a group.
  • Feed indoor plants monthly; but make sure the root ball is wet first, if not water first!
  • Keep citrus plants cool unless they are actively growing. More tips on citrus here
  • If your living room is looking bare now that you have taken out the Christmas tree and taken down the decorations, why not liven up the room with a houseplant! We have a great range available with plants for every situation.

For the living room with good light;                For living room with poorer light;

Ficus – weeping fig                                             Spathiphyllum – peace lily

Kalanchoe – Flaming Katy                                    Asplenium

Asparagus ferns                                                 Kentia or Areca Palm

For halls/landings good light but draughty;    For halls/landings poor light but draughty;

Syngonium – goose foot                                     Aspidistra – cast iron plant

Hedera – ivy                                                        Howea – Kentia palm

Chlorophytum – spider plant                               Fatsia – castor oil plant

Conservatory or sunny window;                     North facing windows;

Jasmine                                                              Saintpaulia – African Violet

Kalanchoe – Flaming Katy                                   Clivia – Kaffir lily

Stephanotis – Madagascar jasmine                    Azalea

  • Central heating can dry out houseplants, so stand the pots in groups on a tray of damp Hydroleca or pebbles. This will create a humid atmosphere around the plants but do avoid over watering and position them where they can make the most of the winter daylight.
  • Keep deadheading Cyclamen, African Violets, Christmas Cacti and Azaleas to encourage more flowers to open. Don’t forget to keep Cyclamen and Azaleas as cool as possible for prolonged flowering.
  • When the days and nights are very cold, move plants away from cold windowsills into a warmer place!


Grow Your Own


  • Buy seed potatoes and set them up to shoot [‘chitting’]. Early varieties like ‘Rocket’ will benefit but later varieties will yield better too if encouraged into growth before planting out. If you have room for only one variety; grow ‘Charlotte’.
  • Plant shallots. They prefer soil that hasn’t been used to grow onions, leeks or shallots for several years before and a well manured plot. Delay planting onion sets until warmer.
  • Cover a piece of cultivated veg patch to trap the weak winter sun’s warmth so that an early sowing of carrots, parsnips, peas and other vegetables can be made.  Use clear polythene and lay it flat on the soil but weight down the edges to stop it blowing away.
  • Dig garden lime into areas where you are planning to grow cabbages, sprouts, etc. This will help combat club root disease. Aim for pH 7.5. Some resistant varieties are now available e.g. Cauliflower Clapton, Brussels Sprout Crispus, Cabbage Kilaxy and Kilaton
  • Plant fruit trees, bushes, canes and rhubarb.
  • Prune apples and pear trees but not if they are fan, cordon or espalier trained as these should be done in summer. Prune also grapevines, currants (black, red and white), berries (blackberries, tayberries, gooseberries and loganberries).
  • Cover established rhubarb crowns with manure and a rhubarb forcing pot (or old chimney) to produce early, tender young stems.
  • Dig a trench for runner beans and fill the bottom with well-rotted compost or farmyard manure.
  • Spray ‘Winter Tree Wash’ to clear fruit of over-wintering pests.
  • Cover strawberries with cloches to begin to force an early crop.
  • If you are itching to get growing this year’s veg, sow turnips, lettuce, stump rooted carrots, early cabbage, cauliflower and spinach in trays on the windowsill. These could be planted out in February.
  • Pick off yellowing leaves from sprouts and other Brassicas. They may harbour downy mildew and other diseases if left. Sprouts and purple sprouting may need staking.
  • Keep a sharp watch out for pigeon damage during cold periods and net your crops as soon as you see damage starting. We can supply the net.
  • Sow sprouting seeds and pea shoots to have fresh tasty salad veg or sandwich fillings from your own windowsill.


Lawns, Hedges, Paths & Drives


  • Mowing the lawn in winter has now become a feature of winter gardening. As long as the lawn is not very wet and the grass is not frozen there is no reason why you should not continue to mow. Don’t have the blades set low. Try to fit in getting the mower serviced and don’t leave it to the last moment to take it to the service engineer otherwise you may have a disappointing wait.
  • New hedges should be planted now, especially those we sell as bare root plants like beech, laurel, hawthorn and our British native mix.
  • Cure dangerous slippery paths with Patio Magic or Algon. It improves the look of the hard surface as well as making it safer by removing moss, algae, lichens and stains.
  • If moles are a problem and you can’t trap them we may be able to supply you with a useful contact that will clear them for you. This month moles begin to become much more active.
  • Brush worm casts off your lawns as they appear. It is best to tolerate them rather than kill them as they will be busy improving your soil structure and drainage!


Bits & Pieces


  • Clean and disinfect plant trays and pots to prevent carry over of disease from one year to the next. Bamboo canes can harbour pests inside their hollow centres (especially red spider mites) so treat these or burn them and buy new.
  • Turn and mix your compost heap. Add more Garotta compost maker and make sure that it is moist throughout the whole pile. Shred Christmas wrapping paper and mix it into your compost heap.
  • Cut the branches off your real Christmas tree and use them to protect tender plants from hard weather until spring. Alternatively, put the branches in your local garden green waste disposal scheme.
  • Empty water butts and give them a thorough clean.


Soils, Mulching, Weed Control, etc


  • Love them or hate them, celandines can take over your garden and are very hard to control! Now is the time to get rid of them if you need to. They are actively growing already and are susceptible to a spray of Roundup or Resolva 24h now. This is a non selective weedkiller that is inactivated when it touches the soil but don’t spray it on anything you want to keep.
  • It’s not too late to mulch beds and borders to suppress weeds and trap in moisture. Use spent mushroom compost or farmyard manure on heavy soils or for a more decorative finish use chipped pine bark
  • Use bubble wrap to lag plant containers against frost and wind damage. Frost susceptible plants can be protected too – use a cover of lightweight horticultural fleece. Its’ fine webbing allows the plant to breath but keeps frost off leaves and lets light in. We have both available. We also stock ready-made polythene or fleece tunnels as well as ‘Plant Cosies’, which neatly slip over individual plants.


Ponds, Wildlife, Pets & Bog Plants


  • Remove any fallen leaves.
  • Stop the whole surface freezing over by floating a ball on the surface ~ never smash the ice if there are fish in the water!
  • Plant shrubs and trees that will provide food and shelter for wildlife in winter. Rowan, Cotoneaster, Berberis, Amelanchier, Crataegus, Buddleja, Crab apples, Pyracantha, ivy and hollies are good examples.
  • Make sure that there is always fresh water available.
  • Supply a range of bird food to cater for all types of birds; mixed seed on tables, meal worms for robins, fat balls for the tit family, peanuts for finches, fruit and cheese for thrushes and blackbirds, etc., etc.
  • Regularly clean feeders and tables with a bird safe disinfectant.
  • Make a log or rock pile in a quiet corner to act as a wildlife refuge.