January Garden Tips

Welcome to Garden View’s monthly gardening tips. We hope you find this information useful and check back often as we will feature new tips each month as well as new articles to the left.

Even in the middle of winter, California gardeners can be very busy this month, with roses to plant and fruit trees to prune. A little environmentally friendly dormant spray applied now will eliminate many of summer’s pests. Just remember though, that days are short, so you have fewer hours to garden than you might like. Rain is more likely in February, but if it does rain, don’t walk in the garden beds or you will damage the soil. Nurseries have their biggest selections of roses in January.

January Gardening Checklist:

Grapes

Spur and Cane Pruning Diagram for GrapesIt is time to prune grapes while they are dormant. Cane and spur pruning are the most popular. If you are growing the vines on a trellis or pergola use the same theory.

Raspberries

Red raspberry closeup on plantPrune low chill Raspberry canes down to 3 to 4" tall new growth will sprout from ground in spring

Prune Dormant Roses

Outward Facing Bud pruning diagram of rose stemClean up dead, diseased, or crossing branches; then cut back canes by about 1/3, trimming just above outward-facing canes, then thin out all branches thinner than a pencil. Roses will grow in the direction the last bud is facing; Your goal is to get the shrub to grow outward not into itself.
Rose Stem Pruning Chart to do and not to do

Iceberg Roses

White Iceberg Roses on shrubIceberg roses do not need to be cut back as these are used more as a shrub. They will respond well to being cut back especially in locations that you are trying to keep the height of the shrub lower

Climbing Roses

Pink Climbing roses growing along white fenceClimbing Roses should not be cut down like your dormant roses. They can even be cut with hedge sheers. Some time spent inside out pruning will pay dividends next spring though.

Drain Systems

Check swales on hills, clean obstructions, and check drains. Protect hillsides and use common sense to check for issues that may create slope erosion. Check any sump pumps, gutters, and drains.

Protect from Freezing

Be prepared to protect sensitive shrubbery from nighttime freezes from now through February. A string of Christmas lights may be enough. Better is to put a supported bed of Frost Cloth or Plastic sheets above and around the plants (not touching the plant) at night when frost is expected. Frost cloth is available at Garden View nursery. Turning on water during a frost will also help... See our article on Frost / Freeze protection. For plants that do get nipped wait until March to trim off the damaged foliage. The damaged foliage is helping protect against future damage and you don't want to encourage any new growth until after the chance of frost has passed.

Weed

If you haven’t already, mulch flower and vegetable beds to keep ahead of weeds encouraged by winter rains. Regular hoeing and some sprays are also useful.

Cyclamen Care

cyclamen flowers in a potCyclamen is great for cool season winter blooms; it can bloom into the summer (with light shade, cool spot and some luck). The plants are expensive but generally worth it. Don’t over-water Cyclamen they can wilt. You can tell if wilting results from over-watering by checking the stems. If the stems are soft and wet you have over-watered conversely if the stems are dry, crisp and firm and leaves wilted you have under watered. Do not clip faded blooms – this can lead to rot – pull them off with a quick downward yank. Fertilize regularly with a complete fertilizer.

Plant and Water Natives

Blue California native plants in front yard along walkwaySome think this is the best month to plant California natives. It’s also a good time to sow seeds of California wildflowers. Water California Natives if they have not received any rain.

Plant Roses

Nurseries carry their best selections of roses now, selling many bare-roots from sawdust-filled bins for less than at other times of the year. Because it is difficult to keep roots from drying out, though, many nurseries (Including Garden View Nursery) pot up their bare-root plants and sell them. This also provides opportunity to the customer to see the blooms prior to purchasing.
Whatever way you buy roses, there are advantages to planting them in the age-old bare-root fashion: Shake soil from the roots, and soak them overnight. Dig a hole wider than their spread, and add amendments to the excavated soil. Make a little cone of soil in the bottom of the hole, and spread the roots over it. Refill the hole, carefully packing soil around the roots. The swelling above the roots – the bud union – should end up at soil level. Thoroughly water, then mound amendment over the canes for protection from the hot sun and drying winds. When sprouts appear, wash the amendment away, and let it become mulch.

Azaleas and Camellias: Plant, Transplant, and Rejuvenate

camellia flower closeupAzaleas and Camellias (right) are at their peak now. Shop for the colors and forms that you want plant right away. Now is also the time to move established plants. Esteban (Garden View Maintenance Supervisor) says that struggling older azaleas can be rejuvenated by digging around the old root ball and adding sufficient quantities of peat moss in the soil.

Plant Bedding Flowers

orange bedding plant flowersNursery supplies of the following cool weather flowers are still good; Calendula, Cineraria, Dianthus, English daisies, Iceland poppies, Pansies, Primroses, Ranunculus, Snapdragons, Stock, Sweet alyssum, and Violets. Water to settle soil, then water twice weekly unless rains are sufficient.

Prune Dormant Plants

Begin pruning dormant fruit and shade trees, roses, grapes, and vines. Delay pruning of spring-flowering shrubs and vines until after their flower show is over.

Plant Fruit Trees

The selection of deciduous fruit trees, grapes and berries is also greatest now, and they, too, are sold bare-root. When shopping for apple, apricot, peach, plum and nectarine varieties, make sure to choose only those that produce fruit in your climate. Many won’t in areas with mild winters. All of the deciduous trees sold at Garden View Nursery are selected to fruit in Southern California.

Prune Fruit Trees

Deciduous fruit trees need pruning if they are to remain healthy and produce good crops. Apple and apricot need the least, just enough to encourage the new growth that keeps fruit coming. Do not prune off spurs, the short, stubby branches that produce the fruit. Peach and nectarine need quite a bit of pruning, and plum falls in between.

Plant Vegetables

Set out started seedlings of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard, chives, endive, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, onions, and parsley, Sow seeds of beets, carrots, and radishes. Near the coast or inland, it is still too early to start most other vegetable seeds outdoors.

Apply Dormant Sprays

After pruning roses and deciduous fruit trees, apply a nonpoisonous dormant spray containing an oil to smother pests and a natural fungicide to kill diseases. Be sure to use fixed-copper or lime-sulfur spray to prevent peach-leaf curl on peach and nectarine trees. Don’t use sulfur on apricot.

Care for Cool Seasons Lawns

Mow cool-season grasses, Blue, Rye and Fescue as often as necessary; recommended mowing height is 1 ½ to 2 inches. To control germinating crabgrass, apply pre-emergent weed killer this month.

Dethatch Bermuda Lawns

Remove built-up thatch from Bermuda lawns now if lawn is soft and spongy and over-seed. Most Bermuda needs this treatment ever two or three years. Power thatching machines available at tool rental yards, can make this job much easier.