This is not the time for gardeners to be idle. January is a great month for eliminating weeds, pruning and planting fruit, flowering and shade trees.
Sid Mullis, the director of the University of Georgia Extension Office for Richmond County says, “The quicker you take control of winter weeds the better, for a number of reasons. First, younger weeds are easier to control than larger, mature weeds, which are are likely to need several applications of herbicides, adding to your cost of time and money.”
Most deciduous (plants that lose all their leaves for part of the year) trees and shrubs can be pruned in January. Do not prune spring flowering plants such as azaleas, forsythia, etc. because you would be removing their spring flowers. These plants should be pruned after they finish flowering.
When planting a tree, dig a hole twice as wide and slightly shallower than the root ball. Roughen the sides and bottom of the hole with a pick or shovel to loosen soil so the roots can penetrate it.
Gently place tree into hole. Be sure the tree is standing upright. The depth of the plant in the pot should be the same depth as the plant in the ground. The base of the tree trunk will rot if soil covers the root crown. Fill the hole with soil under and around the root ball. If adding a soil amendment, mix approximately one part amendment to three parts of soil from the planting site.
Firmly tamp the soil as you backfill. Watering as you backfill will also remove air pockets. If it is necessary to stake your tree, make sure your stakes are tied loose enough around the trunk so that it does not damage your tree by digging into the bark.
Mulch around your tree, but keep mulch 2- to 3 inches away from the trunk to prevent rot. Mulching will help your tree retain moisture and also help keep weeds away.
Be sure to keep your tree watered. Let the ground dry out some between each watering.
Remember, Clemson University Home Gardening Information Center is available to assist you with any gardening problem you may have by phone (888) 656-9988 or Web site (hgic.clemson.edu).