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January lawn and garden 
maintenance checklist


• If it is not too wet, this is a good time to plant trees, especially those balled and burlapped or bare root. It is important that you get them in the ground while they are dormant. If a live Christmas tree was purchased, plant outdoors as soon as possible.

• Transplant any trees or shrubs that need it during this dormant period. Prune transplants to reduce the work of severed roots. Make sure all plants are well watered and mulched to protect roots from winter damage.

• January is also a great month to select and plant roses.

• It’s late but if you didn’t get your bulbs in the ground, this is your last chance! The ground may be wet or even frozen but if you can get them planted, daffodils and tulips will still bloom for you in the spring.

• Lilies of all types, except Madonna, may be planted.

• Coastal: asparagus crowns.

• Sow wildflower seeds.

• Check seed-starting supplies. Replace old fluorescent or grow lights before the seed starting season begins.

• Plant lettuce, cabbage and broccoli seed in cold frames to transplant within six to eight weeks.

• Basil, chives, parsley, sage, summer savory and sweet marjoram indoors.

• Warmer coastal areas: (seed) beets, carrots, garden peas, lettuce, mustard, radishes, spinach and turnips outdoors.

• Hardy vegetables, root crops, roots and tuber in southern-most areas.

• In water garden, add underwater plants as forage for fish.


• Soil test before setting up fertility program.

• Asparagus beds in late January

• Seedlings grown in soil less mixes when the first true leaves appear.

• Feed perennials when they start showing greenery.

• Pecan trees.


• Cleanly prune any storm-damaged branches from trees and shrubs.

• January is a great month to prune most deciduous trees and shrubs. Flowering and shade trees can be pruned at this time. Play it safe though and don’t get too happy with the lopers. Do not prune spring flowering plants, like quince, forsythia or spirea, etc. as you would be removing their spring flowers. If needed, these plants can be pruned when the plants have finished flowering.

• Fruit trees. (Best time is just before bud break.)

• Wait to prune crepe myrtles for more blooms till around Valentines’ Day.

• This is an excellent time to prune that invasive trumpet vine or honeysuckle that is threatening to take over your shrubs.

• Prune away dead portions of houseplants.


• Check the potting mix in pots that will be used to force bulbs indoors. The mixture should be evenly moist without standing water. The easiest way to determine moisture is to lift the pots. A dry pot will be lighter than a wet one.

• Spot water any dry areas of your landscape to avoid plant desiccation, but do not overwater. Overwatering encourages root rot.

• Water all plants and the lawn in absence of rainfall.

• If a freeze is forecast, well-watered roots are less susceptible to freeze damage.


• This is a good time to eliminate slugs. Every slug left to roam the garden will reproduce two hundred off-springs this spring, summer and fall. In addition, the offspring will also reproduce young. So you can make a major reduction in the slug population in your garden by eliminating them now.

• Spray fruit trees with horticultural oil to kill insects, eggs, and larvae. Early winter is a good time to make an application of Dormant spray to help control over- wintering insect and disease problems. A combination Lime Sulfur and Oil spray or Copper spray are the ones most often used for winter dormant spraying. Do not spray when the temperatures are below freezing, when it is raining or at a time when the wind is blowing.

• Watch for rabbit, field mice or other rodent damage on lower trunks of trees and shrubs. Control measures include tree wraps, mesh guards, baits, weed control to remove hiding places and traps.

• Watch for grass fungus (brown patch, take-off, etc.), FL Weed-Out, Spectrum Weed Stop.

• Pre-treat for early season weeds – Late January: Spread pre-emergent herbicide, Balan.

• Hand pull winter annuals such as common chickweed and henbit.

• Hand pull wild garlic (wild onions) when the soil is moist to make sure the bulb is removed, otherwise it will resprout.

• Watch for gray mold on clustered plants in high moisture conditions, Daconil.

• Watch for damping-off, HY Captan.

• Houseplants: mealy bugs, spider mites, scale: insecticidal soap.


• If the ground is friable, prepare vegetable beds for spring planting. 

• If you are preparing a new border, now is the time to mix compost, lime or other amendments into the bed. Make sure soil is not wet. If it does not crumble easily in your hand, let it dry out.

• Now is also the time to prepare your site for roses. Make sure soil is not wet. Dig and work the soil thoroughly over as large an area as possible. Spread a 2- to 4- inch layer of compost or other organic matter. Add limestone to increase soil pH (if recommended by soil-test). Mix material into bed 8 to 12 inches deep. Allow the bed to settle for a few days before planting.

• On warm days, take a look at the bare bones of your garden structure. See where plants can be placed, which plants might need to be moved, and write down your thoughts and ideas for future reference when the planting season begins.

• If you not done so already, begin keeping a gardening journal. In addition to recording your garden’s progress, it is also an excellent way to keep track of where you bought plants, tools, etc. and weather conditions in your area.

• Make a growing chart to determine where and when you need to plant. Organize your seed packets (not only your flowers, remember vegetables and herbs too) for your sowing schedule.

• Does your mower need sharpening; does the oil need changing; what about the filters; is the engine running properly? If you need to have any parts of your power garden implements repaired, this is the time to do it while the business at repair shops is slow. If you wait until mid-February or later it will probably be two or three weeks to get this same type of work done.

• Spring will be here before you know it, so get those pruners and loppers sharpened.

• Graft pecans over entire state and start grafting camellias in south Alabama.

• Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous ornamental shrubs and trees for propagation.

• Inspect summer tubers, corms, and bulbs. If they look like they are drying, spritz them with a little water. If they are in a medium such as sand or peat, moisten that as well. Discard any diseased or dead bulbs, etc.

• Turn compost pile monthly or more often and keep moist.

• Continue to harvest carrots, radishes and turnips. Also, lettuce and spinach in cold frames or under protective coverings.

• Maintain non-dormant ryegrass-over seeded bermudagrass lawns at a height of 1 inch.

• Check the cold frame for signs of trouble. On warm, sunny days, vent the cold frame.

• Make sure indoor plants are receiving enough light with the shorter days and low sun angle.

• To keep flowering holiday gift plants looking their best, move them to a spot that is 100 cooler at night.

• Plants growing under fluorescent lights need to rest at night. Rely on an automatic timer to keep the lights on for about twelve to sixteen (but no more the eighteen) hours per day before shutting them off automatically at night.

• Houseplants will enjoy a "shower" to clean off leaves. Place plants into a bathtub or on a porch and gently spray with lukewarm water. Clean off leaves of large plants with a damp soft cloth. To clean plants with felty leaves, such as African Violets, use a small brush and brush off leaves – do not clean leaves with water.  

• Check houseplants for heat stress. Maintain adequate humidity and light levels. Also, houseplants, especially tropicals, might suffer cold injury if they are placed too close to window panes during the winter. Move them back a few inches, and make sure their leaves are not touching the glass.

• Bring out one or two pots of bulbs each week so that there will be a steady stream of flowers in your home. Start them out in the coolest spot in your home, which will allow the flowers to last longer in bright, but indirect, light. When the leaves turn green and begin to grow, place in a sunny window and flowers should open up shortly. As blossoms fade, either compost the bulbs or put the pots in a sunny place where the leaves can recharge the bulbs to be planted outdoors later.

• To encourage amaryllis to bloom next year, remove withered flowers and give plenty of sunlight and nutrients to strengthen the bulbs.

• Propagate split-leaf philodendrons and other leggy indoor plants by air-layering.

• Check houseplants for insects and repot root-bound plants.  

• If you get the winter blues, find out where you can take a day trip to a conservatory. Many large and medium sized cities in the region have indoor botanical gardens.

• Feed the birds!

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Date Last Updated January, 2006