Pruning, Planting and Protecting, Oh My!
January is a very busy month in California and other mild winter gardens! So put away those holiday decorations, oil up those pruning tools and get outside in the crispy January air!
Here’s what to do in January:
- Roses don’t really go dormant in mild winter areas, but we force them into a short dormancy by pruning them this month. Pruning also encourages a healthier plant by cutting out dead wood and weak branches as well as opening up the interior of the plant for good air circulation which helps with disease prevention. For simple to follow pruning instructions see my post on 8 Simple Steps to Perfectly Pruned Roses.
- Deciduous fruit trees should be pruned this month also. Pruning fruit trees is not as scary as you may think. It involves cutting out dead wood, crossing branches and shortening some of the vigorous summer growth so that the trees stay a manageable size in your backyard. Here’s a link to a Winter Pruning Video by Dave Wilson Nursery, a commercial grower of fruit trees in the California central valley. Their website is awesome and has tons of great info for the home gardener.
- Start seeds indoors of warm season flowers and veggies. (Look for post on this topic later this month)
- Plant bare root roses. See my post on Roses: Plant Bareroot Now for details on how to plant.
- Plant bare root deciduous fruit trees. Follow the same process as above for bare root roses. Bare root fruit trees are much cheaper than potted trees and you can plant multiple trees in a single hole! Check out this Dave Wilson Nursery video: Plant 3 Fruit Trees in 1 Hole.
- Plant azaleas and camellias this month while in bloom. The roots and branches are resting while in bloom but will have a growth spurt as soon as bloom finishes getting them off to a good start in your garden.
- Continue planting transplants of cool season veggies like lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, and onions.
- Dormant spraying of roses and deciduous fruit trees after pruning will go a long way to preventing or reducing pests and disease. Dormant sprays can be either oils or anti fungal sprays. (Look for post on this topic later this month)
- Spray apricots and peaches to prevent peach leaf curl with an organic lime sulfur spray.
- Frost protection of tender plants is advised if we get the rare nights that are cold enough for frost. Bring potted plants under a patio cover, eave, tree or other sheltered area. Protect citrus and other tender plants in the ground by covering with a sheet, paint tarp or cardboard box. Be sure to remove first thing in the morning before the sun hits the plants. If you have access to electricity outside, you can string mini Christmas lights on the citrus trees and keep lighted through the night. They generate just enough heat to protect the trees from a light frost.
- Do not prune off frost damage. Pruning will encourage new growth which will be damaged if there is another frost. Wait until all danger of frost is past and you see new growth before pruning off frost damaged plant parts.