The garden could need protecting from frosts, gale-force winds and heavy rain in January. Check stakes, ties, fleeces and other supports for damage and consider moving plants to sunnier positions to maximize light. Don’t forget to keep feeding the birds, food is scarce for them over winter. Click here to visit our Birdcare pages.
Sowing and planting:
Sow seed of hardy annuals, such as calendula, for some early flowers. Click here to visit our seeds and propagation page.
Plant Amaryllis bulbs in pots now for stunning indoor flowers in early spring.
Continue planting trees and shrubs while they are still dormant.
Cutting back, pruning and dividing:
Prune your Wisteria plant now, cutting back summer side-shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
Prune rose bushes now whilst they are dormant. Cut back to just above a bud and remove any crossing or dead branches.
Cut back the old foliage from ornamental grasses before growth begins – clip them to within a few centimetres of the ground.
Cut down the old stems of perennial plants like Sedum – be careful of any new growth.
Remove old Hellebore leaves to make the new blooms more visible as they emerge this spring.
Cut back damaged, diseased and the oldest stems of brightly coloured willows, and thin overcrowded stems.
Continue to deadhead winter-flowering pansies and other winter bedding. Pansies will carry on into the spring and even to early summer, if attended to frequently.
Improve soil by spreading compost or manure over beds and forking in.
Dig deeply areas where you’ll be planting new roses, shrubs or perennials.
Check whether containers need watering. Even at this time of year, they can dry out. Pots that are sheltered by eaves or balconies can miss out on any rainfall. If in doubt, check the compost at a hand’s depth to see if it feels dry. Aim to keep pots moist, but not wet.
Spread a thick mulch of bark over the crown of tender plants, such as fuchsias, dahlias and cannas.
Prune summer-flowering clematis, cutting stems back to emerging buds close to soil level.
If snow falls, knock it off the branches of evergreen shrubs and conifers to prevent branches breaking under its weight.
Consider purchasing water butts (available in many sizes from Poplar Nurseries) now ready for the summer. Rainwater is particularly useful for watering acid-loving, ericaceous plants (tap water is often slightly alkaline).
Start chitting (sprouting) early potatoes – stand them on end in a module tray or egg box and place in a bright cool frost-free place. (We have lots of seed potato varieties to choose from.) You can start growing potatoes in containers under cover for a very early crop. (Charlotte potatoes are a good variety for this). If your greenhouse is unheated, protect your potato grow bags with horticultural fleece on cold nights.
Harvest parsnips and leeks.
If you’d like to grow early peas, place a cloche over the soil to let it warm up for a few weeks prior to sowing.
While you’re waiting for the weather to warm up, try growing your own mushrooms using a mushroom kit indoors.
Remove yellowing leaves from your winter brassicas as they are no use to the plant and may harbour pests and diseases.
Avoid walking on lawns on frosty mornings. It can damage the grass and often leads to brown footprint-shaped marks.
Continue to remove fallen leaves from lawns before they block out light and moisture to the grass.
Grass will continue to grow in temperatures above 5°C (41°F), so if the weather remains mild it may be necessary to use the mower to keep the lawn in trim. Ensure the cut is 3-5mm higher than during the summer to prevent turf stress. On average, this means a cutting height of around 2-4cm (1-1.5in) for a utility lawn.
Repair damaged lawn edges or patches with turves cut from other areas of the garden. Re-cut all lawn edges to crisp up the appearance of the garden, and save work next season.