As we anticipate our gorgeous spring lawns and gardens, we will continue with our winter gardening plan. January is another great month for planting trees and shrubbery. Continue to mulch shrubs, and if you haven’t yet had your soil tested, you should do so now.
Since it is the first of the year, begin by testing and servicing your spray equipment. Spray winter weeds and wild onions with approved herbicides. Remember, weeds want to live as much as your grass does, so it is best to prevent them from growing in the first place.
It is time for monthly fertilization of houseplants. Be sure to turn houseplants weekly to allow all-around sun for your plant. Turning your plant also keeps it from growing in one slanted direction.
If you planted pansies, remember to water them regularly. One of the most common reasons pansies fail is lack of water.
Fertilize around pansies with a general, all-purpose liquid fertilizer. By removing faded or dead flowers, you prolong blooming and encourage more flower growth.
Now is the time to prepare rose beds for planting later this month. First, select a bed site. Roses need direct sun for a minimum of six hours a day. The sun’s morning rays are necessary for evaporating moisture on leaves, which can lead to mildew or fungus problems.
Do not select a rose bed site near concrete surfaces because the reflection of the sun off the concrete intensifies the damaging heat of summer. Do not select a site that causes the roots of roses to compete with the roots of trees or shrubs. Roses are heavy feeders and cannot compete with other root systems.
Roses like steady amounts of water, but sitting in water causes root damage. Test your soil’s drainage by digging a small hole and filling it with water.
Drainage should occur in less than an hour. If it takes longer to drain, you can improve drainage by digging your hole 6 inches deeper and amending the soil with builder’s sand. If your soil drains too quickly, you can assist your plant site’s ability to retain moisture by adding organic matter in the form of compost, cover crops or yard waste.
Before planting, check the growth habit and size of your chosen variety to be sure each rose bush has enough room for growth in the rose bed. Typical rose beds are 5-foot strips with 4 feet of walking space on either side. Remember, you need sufficient access to your roses for fertilizing, watering, spraying and pruning.
When you step into your rose bed to care for your roses, your feet compact the soil and may damage the plant roots. To minimize soil compaction and to distribute body weight more evenly, provide stepping stones between the roses.
This is the time of year to prune pears, apples, muscadines and blackberries. Do not prune peach or plum trees at this time. If you prune them too early and a frost occurs, the open cuts can cause damage to the trees. Do mulch your strawberries now.
For those who are planning to have a vegetable garden, make a plan and prepare your soil. You should prepare your flats for seeding spring vegetables that will be transplanted in February and March. You may now plant onions, and continue to plant asparagus. Prepare equipment ahead of time, and service your tillers and lawn mowers now.
Don’t forget, if you have questions or problems, or just need more information, you may call the Home Gardening Information Center at Clemson University, (888) 656-9988, or visit hgic.
clemson.edu. Happy gardening.