Happy New Garden! January Garden Tips in Southern California

Some people make New Year’s resolutions, others get out and garden. Here are some January garden tips for getting yours off to a great start. And the best part is there’s no crowded gyms or broken resolutions!

To Plant or Not to Plant?

January is the perfect time to plant container-grown trees and shrubs as well as bare-root trees, shrubs and roses. Bare-root plants are dormant plants sold with no soil covering their roots. Delicate plants such as perennial herbs & flowers and ground covers are best planted after the last frost.

In the meantime, you can plant cool-season annuals such as calendula, foxgloves, Iceland poppies, linaria, pansies and snapdragons in bare spots. This is safe when temperatures rarely go under 35F. It’s also a good time to plant pre-chilled crocuses, hyacinths and tulips; they’ll be beautiful with a spring bloom. Bare-root fruits and veggies such as rhubarb, strawberries and artichokes can be planted as soon as they’re available in your local nursery.

Prune Away

Now is the time to prune roses (and deciduous fruit trees). If you’re in a very hot area, your roses may need to be pruned to six – eight inches in order to stimulate new growth. It’s a good time to spray with horticultural oil as a preventative measure against future insect infestation.

Prune your trees and shrubs, too, but exercise caution when pruning flowering trees and shrubs to avoid trimming off developing buds. It’s generally safe to prune flowering plants within a month of their final blooms. Now is, however, the perfect time to prune evergreens and deadhead camellia blossoms. Don’t forget to pick up the dead blossoms; this helps prevent diseases. You can also prune late-summer or fall-blooming trees and shrubs now. These include abelia, mimosa, cassia, oleander, crape myrtle, princess flower and golden rain tree.

Don’t trim frost damage until after the last frost.

The Indoor Nursery

If you’re six – eight weeks from the last average frost date or in low desert areas, January is a good time to start warm-season annuals indoors from seed. These are plants such as basil, cosmos, impatiens, marigolds, peppers, salvia and zucchini. If you’d rather not bring your garden indoors, wait until the risk of frost has passed and buy seedlings.

Lawn Care, Really?

Yes, really. January is the right time to fertilize cool-season lawns such as bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass. It’s also time to give your lawn crabgrass preventers. You can consult your local Hydro-Scape for the right type and amount of product to apply. Now is also a good time to get your lawn mower tuned-up, change the oil, and otherwise get it ready for use. Sharpen the blade and maybe buy an extra. Since blades need to be sharpened three – four times during mowing season, you’ll always have a sharp blade on hand!

You can mow cool-season grasses to two inches during the cooler weather, switching to three inches once temperatures hit the 90s. Warm-season grasses such as Bermuda, zoysia and St. Augustine to two inches year-round.

Other January Jobs

If you have cool-season crops such as lettuces, peas and spinach, keep harvesting. This encourages more production. That means more deliciousness at your dining table.

Since it’s a new year, why not keep track of this year’s outdoor adventure by starting a garden journal (or file). You can collect names of plants you want to plant, labels and seeds, articles and pictures and anything else that interests you. Why not plan new areas within your landscape to plant more edibles and start preparing now?

Article added January, 2014