January Gardening Tasks
Franklin Laemmlen, Ph.D., Master Gardener
January is a fairly quiet month in the garden. So far this winter the temperatures have been
cold. I have checked with a few
long-term (native) residents of
This is the time of year when you should be pruning fruit trees, roses, and any other plants that require some severe pruning. Now is also the time to apply dormant sprays to trees and shrubs. The dormant spray should consist of dormant oil for insect control, and a copper fungicide or calcium polysulfide for disease control. If you have peaches or nectarines, the copper or calcium polysulfide is especially important to prevent leaf curl disease. Use these fungicides and the oil according to label directions and apply them to thoroughly wet all the twigs, branches and trunk of the plant. If your plants have scale infestations, the winter dormant oil spray is especially important. However, if you are going to spray evergreen plants for insect control, do not use dormant oil, use instead a narrow range “horticultural oil,” also called a “summer oil.” Horticultural oils are much less likely to cause phytotoxicity to plants with foliage present.
If you plan to top dress your permanent flower beds with manure or compost, the end of January and February is a good time. The spring rains can then wash some of the nutrients into the surface layers of soil where new spring plant roots can absorb the nutrients for spring growth.
Finally, if you have plants that are showing frost injury, do not prune them now. Wait until spring when new growth begins. Then you will be able to trim the frozen wood back to living tissue and not destroy any more of your injured tree or shrub than necessary.