January: To Do
If you print out this page, you should get little boxes
where the bullets are, making this a check list.
Oh, and if you really think that I actually do all of these
things, you are terribly confused. Sometimes I even (gasp)
do things that aren't on this list.
I can only guarrentee this list is accurate for the things that
I grow. I do not grow every item on this list. This list
is targetted to Sunset Zone 14,
specifically, and I think it is good for all of USDA Zone 9. In
addition, it is probably pretty accurate for USDA Zones 10-11
and maybe 8.
January in Livermore (Sunset Zone 14) can be beautiful. It rains,
but not too much, leaving the sky a wonderful, deep blue color.
Temperatures are cool to chilly (30-50° F / 0-10° C). It is
time for bare-root planting of trees, shrubs, and roses, pruning of
non-spring bloomers, soil amendment, and odd jobs like sprinkler
What's in bloom? Camillas and that is about it, but my gulf stream
nandina is a beautiful, vibrant red.
Trees, Shrubs, and Vines /
Lawns and Ground Covers /
Container Gardens /
Kitchen Garden: Vegetables and Herbs /
House, greenhouse, or conservatory plants /
Other: Structural and Special
- January 9th & 10th: Presentation at Alden Lane Nursery (Alden
Lane, Livermore) by All American Rose Selections (AARS)
Consulting Rosarians David Lowell and Judy & Ken Jones. David
will present at 10 am on Saturday, January 9th. The Jones will
be presenting at 1 pm on the 10th. The general topic shall be
the best roses for the Livermore Valley (Sunset 14, USDA 9),
pruning, feeding, and general care. Call 447-0280 to reserve
General (or it never ends)
- Order seeds. I like Seeds of Change.
- Protect frost tender plants from nighttime frosts.
- Turn compost.
Trees, Shrubs, and Vines
- Prune deciduous trees while dormant like
- Prune fall flowering shrubs like rose
of Sharon, hydrangea, and spiraea.
- Buy and plant (late January) bare-root trees and shrubs like
camellias, azaleas, and rhododendrons.
- Pant balled-and -burlapped and container grown trees and
shrubs when available at your local nursery.
- Apply dormant spays to trees to kill overwintering insects.
Temperatures should be over 40° F (5° C).
- Feed acid lovers an acid fertilizer.
- Feed new and transplanted plants with a water soluable
- Transplant young trees and evergreen and deciduous shrubs.
- Take hardwood cuttings from woody perennial vines and shrubs
to root for new plants. Cut bottom at an angle so you know
which end is the bottom.
- Layer shrubs to extend a hedge or clump.
- Pick up dropped camilla blossoms to control petal blight.
- Cut back decidous vines while bare.
- Remove dead wood under green foliage of evergreen vines.
- Prune roses near the end of the month.
That is the time when my roses are closest to being dormant.
- Plant bare-root roses.
- Transplant dormant roses.
- Watch for rust and blackspot. I, once again (1998), have
rust. The best way to treat rust is defoliate the rose
(sigh) and pick up ALL the dropped leaves.
- Apply dormant sprays.
Lawns and Ground Covers
- Mow only when lawns appear untidy and long.
- Keep traffic off lawn. Wet soil compacts very easily.
- Top-dress lawns lightly with compost or lawn food.
- Service your mower.
- Plant groundcovers and ornamental grasses.
- Cut back ornamental grass before new growth begins.
- Trim messy looking groundcovers.
- Weed groundcovers.
- Order plants.
- Plant bare-root.
- Divide perennials while dormant. Replant immediately.
- Amend soil around perennials.
- Kill leaf cutters and other bad bugs in soil while amending.
- Remove dead leaves.
- Start warm-weather seeds inside.
- Plant lilies, primroses, ranunculus, bleeding heart, and
- Take root cuttings: acanthus, echinops, gaillardia,
- Feed perennials beginning to grow.
- Clean beds and borders.
- As early bulbs begin to grow, sprinkle with wood ash
or slug killer to control slugs.
- Feed with bone meal or bulb food.
- Sow seed of hardy annuals like wildflowers, sweet
peas, and stocks in early January.
- Sow ageratum, anemones, bachelor's buttons, calendulas,
columbines, larkspur, petunias, phlox, poppies, and
snapdragons in late January.
- Sow summer annuals indoors.
- Plant calendula, candytuft, delphiniums, four o'clocks,
larkspur, nemesia, pansy, petunias, pinks, poppies, primrose,
salvia, schizanthus, snapdragons, and
- Deadhead and remove worn-out plants.
- Don't forget to water plants under eaves which may not
get rainwater, assuming it rains.
- Plant pansies, violas, snapdragons in sheltered planters
with bright light.
- Calendulas and chrysanthemums will add instant color and
can be moved (with their pot) anywhere you need that color.
- Clean pots. Scrub to remove hard water salts and
fertilizer salts. Disinfect with bleach.
Kitchen Garden: Vegetables and Herbs
- Test soil, and apply lime or other conditioner if necessary.
- Continue winter digging and amending.
- Force rhubarb.
- Sow fava beans and other hardy winter veggies.
- Plant asparagus and artichoke roots.
- Feed growing plants.
- Prune deciduous fruit trees, grapes, and
- Plant bare-root fruit trees and vines.
- Apply a lime sulfer spray to peach and nectarine trees to
prevent leaf curl.
- Feed established trees and strawberries.
- Soak potted citrus to flush out excess fertilizer.
House, greenhouse, or conservatory plants
- Constant dry heat stresses plants. Yellowing or wilting
indicates that they need more water or occasional misting.
- Holiday "gift" plants need to be kept moist and cool.
Azaleas may need to watered every day.
- When poinsettas lose their color cut back on water slowly to
allow them to go dormant.
- Check plants for pests and clean both upper and lower
- Feed plants that are blooming.
- Leave (or place some sort of) pond cover on your
pond. This protects fish from birds like herons. The fish
are sluggish and cannot react in time to save themselves
from being heron food. In addition, plant cover is reduced
in winter, leaving the fish fewer places to hide. It is
very upsetting to watch a heron snatch your fish. We,
- Occasionally, in Sunset zone 14, we get a freeze hard
enough to cover our pond with a layer of ice an inch thick.
If the ice layer lasts more than a few days, plants and fish
can be deprived of oxygen and suffocated on waste gases.
Do not break the ice. This might cause a shock wave and
kill fish. Instead melt the ice with hot water.
Other: Structural and Special
- Irrigation Systems:
- Clean, repair, or replace filters on drip systems.
- Adjust watering times.
- Service power tools.
- Repair or replace hand tools; oil all moving
- Sharpen pruning tools before pruning.
- Make sure you have adequate drainage for heavy rain storms.
Prune from the inside out.
- Remove diseased and dead branches.
- Remove branches crossing or rubbing each other. Also remove
small twiggy interior branches unless the plant is not old
enought to have developed sufficient larger branches. You will
want to skip to the next step before removing all the twiggy
stuff if that is the case.
- Step back and observe your plant. This step is very
important. Take time to consider its growth habit and the
manner in which you wish the plant to grow. They may not be the
- Prune to shape. This is different with different plants. I
try not to remove too much a plant, limiting myself to cutting
off 1/3 to 1/2 of the plant. In roses, I recommend that the
final height of the
plant after pruning should be 2/3 that of the unpruned plant. A
large rose, like Mr. Lincoln (7 feet in my garden) will be
taller after pruning than Ingrid Bergman (3.5 feet) was
- Do not prune spring bloomers like lilacs. They should
be pruned after blooming.
Icons created by Jen Kitchen (I can't find her new page).
To Do Index
14869 hits since June 25, 1998