Some gardeners buy into the myth that the garden and landscape is tucked in or dead for the month of January. January is not a down time for gardening chores. Here are some helpful turf and ornamental tips for January:

  • Watch for signs of growth in early spring bulbs. When foliage is one inch high, gradually start removing mulch. Cloudy days are best for the initial exposure of the leaves to strong sunlight which can burn tender foliage.
  • Pinch off early buds from developing pansies to encourage plants to branch and form more buds. Check stored bulbs, tubers, and corms. Discard any that are soft or diseased.
  • Branches of forsythia, pussy willow, quince, spirea, and dogwood can be forced for indoor bloom. Make long, slanted cuts when collecting the branches and place the stems in a vase of water. Change the water every four days.
  • Proper rose pruning is the key to successful summer blooms. Prune roses back 25 percent if you want many medium-sized blooms. Prune back 50percent if you want fewer, larger flowers. Modern roses should be pruned just before the buds break dormancy, after the last frost.
  • Remove honeysuckle and other weedy vines from deciduous plants while the plants are still leafless. It’s easier then to distinguish between the weeds and desired plants.
  • Late winter is the time to prune many deciduous trees. Look over your plants now and remove dead, dying unsightly parts of the tree, sprouts growing at or near the base of the tree trunk, crossed branches, and V-shaped crotches.
  • Consider using ferns in your home landscape. Maidenhair, sensitive, cinnamon, and Christmas ferns are good choices. Ferns like an even supply of water throughout the growing season, so soil with high humus content is ideal because it retains water.
  • If bird feeding has been a favorite activity this winter, order trees and shrubs that provide cover and small fruits for your feathered friends. Consider species such as crabapple, hawthorn, holly, dogwood, and pyracantha that can help lure hungry birds from cultivated fruits, if planted on the opposite side of the yard.
  • Once a month, water your acid-loving house plants, such as gardenia and citrus, using a solution of one teaspoon of vinegar to one-quart water.
  • Check all five growing factors if your house plants are not growing well. Light, temperature, nutrients, moisture, and humidity must be favorable to provide good growth.