January Tips

The Ornamental Garden

  • 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 or SB Plant Invigorator* 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. Add to your collection from our exciting new colours!
  • If you didn’t sow in autumn, sweet peas can be sown now for the earliest blooms.
  • There is still time to take root cuttings of Phlox, Verbascum and Oriental Poppies. Hard wood cuttings of Forsythia, Escallonia, Ribes, Cornus and Salix too.
  • 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’ or chipped bark to keep the weeds down.
  • Gather up and bin (don’t compost) 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!
  • Hardy plants to brighten your garden in January – Hellebores, Cyclamen Coum, Camellias, Viburnum tinus Eve Price, Mahonias, Snowdrops, Lonicera Winter Beauty, Algerian Iris, Chimonanthus [Winter Sweet], Witch Hazels, Winter Heathers, Christmas Box
  • 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.
  • Trim Virginia creeper, Boston Ivy, rambling roses and other climbers away from windows, gutters and eaves.
  • Inspect leylandii hedges closely for aphids. This is a newish pest and leads to dead patches if not controlled with a pesticide now.
  • Pull out those weeds that germinated in autumn. Speedwell [‘Bird’s Eye], Herb Robert and Cleavers or Goose-grass are the most common and will make rapid growth as days lengthen.
  • Apply bark mulch to areas between plants that are free of weeds and now fully moistened by winter rain. This will trap the moisture in and keep the weeds down in summer.
  • When digging clay soil, mix in Vitax Clay Breaker* and well-rotted organic matter and they will improve the structure to make it easier to cultivate in future.
  • Gather and remove hibernating snails from under prostrate plants and flat stones. Removing them now will reduce their impact on your plants later.
  • 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. 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 pots outside will suffer if the pot is not protected from wind driven frosts so move them to more shelter.
  • 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. Brush worm casts off your lawns as they appear.
  • 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.
  • Empty water butts and give them a thorough clean.

The Greenhouse

  • Sow Begonia, Lobelia, Salvia and Pelargonium in a heated greenhouse or propagator.
  • Regularly remove dead and dying leaves and flowers from plants in the greenhouse. If you leave them, you may have problems with grey mould developing. Regular ventilation on warm days will help to avoid this too.
  • Spray with a fungicide* eg.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 the greenhouse.
  • Keep a sharp watch for greenfly as they often appear inside this month. Spray SB Invigorator or Bug Clear Ultra* as soon as any appear.
  • Sow Ailsa Craig onion seed into cell packs 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 Fluid* 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.
  • 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 bin them and buy new.

The Inside 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 waterings and then give a thorough soak than a small amount regularly.
  • 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;  Ficus – weeping fig, Spathiphyllum – peace lily, Kalanchoe – flaming katy.
    – For living room with poorer light;  Asplenium, Asparagus ferns, Kentia or Areca Palm.
    – For halls/landings good light but draughty; Syngonium – goose foot, Hedera – ivy, Chlorophytum – spider plant.
    – For halls/landings poor light but draughty; Aspidistra – cast iron plant, Howea – Kentia palm, Fatsia – castor oil plant.
    For Conservatory or sunny window; Jasmine, Kalanchoe – Flaming Katy, Stephanotis.
    – For North facing windows; Saintpaulia – African Violet, Clivia – Kaffir lily, Azalea.
  • 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!
  • Feed indoor plants monthly; but make sure the root ball is wet first, if not water first!
  • 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!

The Kitchen Garden

  • 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 early sowings 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. Cabbage Kilazol.
  • 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, blackcurrants, red currants, white currants, 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 ready for runner beans and fill the bottom with well-rotted compost or farmyard manure.
  • 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 to have fresh tasty salad veg or sandwich fillings from your own windowsill.

The Wildlife Garden

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Remove any fallen leaves from ponds
  • Stop the whole surface of ponds freezing over by floating a ball on the surface ~ never smash the ice if there are fish in the water!
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