January is a busy month for gardeners as we continue to water carefully with one eye on the thermometer while preparing our gardeners for a brand new year! Here is Civano Nursery’s list of garden chores to take care of this month…
What to Plant in January
- Sow seeds of wildflowers and native annuals such as: California poppy, Clarkia, Nasturtium, scarlet flax, golden dyssodia, Gaillardia, and lupine.
- Annuals such as: candytuft, English daisy, pansy, snapdragon, pansy, petunia, and poppy.
- Native perennials such as: brittlebush, penstemon, globe mallow, and desert marigold.
- Water transplants daily until they begin to grow.
- Herbs: Sow seed of basil, chives, eggplant, melon, pepper and tomato indoors. Direct-sow seed or transplant borage, calendula, chamomile, chervil, cilantro, dill, garlic chives and thyme.
- Veggies: Set out transplants of broccoli, green onion, Jerusalem artichoke, and kohlrabi. Sow seeds or set out transplants of beet, bok choy, cabbage, carrot, Chinese cabbage, collards, lettuce, mustard greens, short-season peas, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips.
- Deciduous fruit trees (bare root or containerized).
- Winter growing succulents, either in the ground or in containers.
- Cold hardy shrubs.
- Deciduous cold hardy shrubs should be planted before they leaf out (usually by the end of the month).
- Roses (bare root, containerized, or transplanted from one area of the garden to another).
- Do not fertilize newly planted roses until new leaves emerge.
- Living pine Christmas trees.
- Amaryllis – late in the month.
- Set out hybrid tulip and hyacinth bulbs that have been pre-chilled.
What NOT to Plant in January
- Wait until spring to plant anything that is sensitive to cold temperatures.
What to Fertilize
- Fertilize annuals once around the end of the month.
- Deciduous fruit trees can be fertilized beginning in mid-month.
- Established, mature fig trees that have been in the ground for more than 5 years can be fertilized with a high nitrogen fertilizer at a rate of 5-10 lbs per year – half in January and half in May.
- Fertilize overseeded lawns with a fertilizer formulated for winter lawns.
- Iris can be fertilized late in the month with a balanced complete formula (like 15-15-15).
- Alternatively, you can spread a 1-2 inch layer of organic compost or mulch over the bed.
- Do not fertilize roses in January unless you’re following a 6-week schedule through the winter, and do not fertilize newly planted roses until new leaves emerge in spring.
Prune, Divide, and Conquer
- Thin out newly seeded annuals as needed.
- Pulling out the rejected seedlings can disturb the roots of the seedlings you want to keep, so use a sharp pair of scissors to cut them out rather than pulling.
- Divide garlic chives if clumps are overgrown.
- Prune deciduous fruit trees:
- Remove only 1/3 of apple limbs, ½-1/3 of previous year’s growth on apricot, peach and plum, and prune fig trees only lightly to encourage new growth.
- Prune deciduous trees like ash, Chinese pistache, or Chinese elm, but wait to prune evergreens, frost-sensitive trees, and legumes.
- Cut back cold hardy perennials that have become too leggy near the end of the month.
- Wait until all danger of frost has passed before pruning frost sensitive perennials.
- Cut back pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana) just as new growth emerges (near the end of the month) to reduce its size
- Prune rose canes back to 6-12 inches above the bud union, removing up to 1/3 of the plant.
- Remove all canes that are weak, crossing, diseased, or dead. Make pruning cuts at a 45° angle, and position cuts above a bud that is facing the outside of the plant. Strip leaves off of climbers, floribundas, grandifloras, and hybrid teas.
- Climbing roses are pruned a bit differently – primary canes are not pruned until they have reached the desired height, and all but 5-7 secondary canes are removed.
- Watch for cane borer damage as you’re pruning. If you see damage, remove canes until no sign of damage is seen. Seal cuts with carpenter’s glue if cane borers are a problem in your garden.
- Cut back ornamental grasses to about 6 inches if you didn’t do so last month.
- Regularly mow overseeded rye lawn to a height of 1-2 inches.
For the Fruit Trees
- Taste-test citrus like grapefruit and blood oranges for ripeness.
- Citrus fruit can be damaged at temperatures of 25° F or below for more than 2 hours. If you suspect your citrus fruit has frozen, pick it immediately and squeeze for juice within 24 hours.
- Prune deciduous fruit trees (see pruning section of this post).
- Water during the day rather than during the evening hours this time of year, and be sure to check the soil before watering to make sure that it’s necessary.
- Water seedling annuals every other day until they have 5 true leaves, then reduce watering gradually until they’re getting water 4-6 inches deep once a week (the amount recommended this time of year for established annuals).
- Established herbs need water every 7-10 days, and vegetables need water every 3 days (or often enough to prevent them from drying out between watering).
- Established citrus trees can be watered every 3-4 weeks to a depth of 3 feet.
- Established, deciduous fruit trees can be watered every 10-14 days to a depth of 3 feet (more often if planted in sandy soil or if heavy winds have been frequent).
- Cactus and warm-season succulents that are in the ground can be watered every 4-5 weeks if there hasn’t been any rain.
- Water to a depth of 3-4 inches for small plants and 4-6 inches for larger ones.
- Winter-growing succulents can be watered around every 10-14 days.
- Dormant perennials need water half as often as they are watered when they’re actively growing to a depth of 2 feet.
- Newly planted perennials will need weekly watering until they’re established.
- Cold-hardy shrubs need water around every 2-4 weeks to a depth of 2 feet, depending on heat and soil moisture. Cold sensitive or dormant shrubs need water only every 3-4 weeks while cold temperatures persist.
- Desert-adapted trees should be watered once to a depth of 3 feet if winter rains have been sparse.
- Non-desert-adapted trees need water once in January to the same depth
- Newly planted trees need water every 2-3 weeks, depending on temperatures and soil type.
- Established roses should be watered every 2 weeks or so to a depth of 2 feet. Water newly planted roses every 2-5 days (depending on how quickly the soil dries out) to the same depth, gradually decreasing the frequency to once a week.
- Water overseeded lawns to a depth of 4-6 inches, typically every other week.
- Water dormant lawns and ornamental grasses once this month to the same depth.
- Be prepared to protect the tips of tender columnar cactus and tender annuals or perennials if a hard freeze is predicted
- Apply horticultural oil for pest control this month if you didn’t do so in December.
Did we forget to add something that is on your January gardening checklist? Leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know!
Sources: University of Arizona online publications, Arizona State University online publications, Desert Botanical Garden website, Tucson Botanical Garden website, Gardening in the Deserts of Arizona by Mary Irish, Arizona Master Gardener Manual