This Month in The Garden – January



Mid-Atlantic Region

Zone 7b

January Maintenance Guide


January is a good time to look back on your gardening year and to plan ahead.

Now is a good time to walk around your garden, shoot some photos and make a wish list of your garden’s hopes and dreams.

It is always a good idea to photograph your garden each month as a photo journal of what is blooming when. But also, looking at your garden through the lens is telling. What you see and what others see are often time two different things. We all have our priorities. What you may pass by everyday because you got use to looking at it will show up and be noticed in print. philbrookraleighyoest-13

It’s no different when seeing one’s self in a photograph. Most of us don’t like what we see, we start picking it apart. Do you like what you see in your garden photographs? So while it is a good idea to walk around your garden to jot down ideas and what needs to be done, it is a better idea to evaluate what you see from photographs.

Take a good look around. January is a good time to look back on your gardening year. Are there things you would like to change? Make a list, keep it handy, and add to it as necessary and check off the tasks once completed…it’s a good feeling.


february-2008-12You will begin to see bulb foliage begin to emerge. It’s OK. The leaves are hardy and if harmed, they’ll grow more. Keep bulbs mulched so they aren’t lifted by heaving resulting from repeated freeze and thaw.


Check that the crown of the rose bush is still covered. Often times, winter winds can blow mulch away.


As the tips of your daffodils emerge, add a general 10-10-10 fertilizers or a fertilizer especially designed for bulbs such as Holland Bulb brand.

Figs do fine in many soil types, but perform best in slightly alkaline soil. To aid in this, given our areas natural acid tendencies, Here at Helen’s Haven™, we add powered dolomite limestone (CaCo3) to the fig bushes.

To keep your pansies happy, apply an organic fertilizer such as bone meal or root simulator fertilizer designed specifically for pansies following the label directions. Re-apply every 4 – 6 weeks.


Stay on top of your weeding by handpicking your weeds from the grass and beds on a routine basis. Dig up wild onions and garlic as they emerge.  If possible, walk my gardens daily and note what needs to be done, creating a to-do list. Then weekly, work through the list!


Plants in the winter still need water. We usually get a gracious plenty of rain in the winter and in the spring, but in times of drought, remember a winter drought can be as severe as a summer one. In fact, a plant planted in the fall that was not watered sufficiently in the winter and dies in the summer is often times blamed as a summer problem when it was more likely caused in the winter. Not that this is much consolation for the dead plant. But it does remind us that plants need water even in the winter.

Pansies have a shallow root system – make sure they get watered weekly, if not by nature, then by you.

For your Plumber…leave the hoses attached to your faucets! Your plumber will love you for it. If this is not the kind of love you seek, remove the hoses from your faucets so they don’t freeze and bust.


Spray for your aphids, scale and mites with a dormant oil. This will help to reduce the number of pest. Wait until the temperature is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer for at least 24 hours.

Camellias (Camellia japonica) really start to shine in January. To discourage Camellia petal blight, remember to rake spent flowers that have fallen underneath the bushes.


Recycle your Christmas tree to the garden for the birds. Fill with “ornaments” of pine cones covered with peanut butter rolled in birdseed and add some dried cranberries for color and good eats. The birds with thank you and you can reap the rewards of watching them enjoy. for-the-birds-291

Helen Yoest is a garden writer and coach through her business Gardening with Confidence™

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her facebook friend’s page, Helen Yoest or Gardening With Confidence™ Face Book Fan Page.

Helen also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum



  1. Janet said

    All great tips! Would you believe Texas and Virginia are the only places I have lived where my outside spigot burst? So much for thinking the South was warm enough to not worry about that. We are sure having an artic blast aren’t we?

  2. Nancy Locker said

    Helen- I was surprised to read that you don’t get many hits on your “Monthly Garden Maintenance” I like this feature so much, I’ve been trying to figure out how to paste the address into the status update page of my facebook account. I’m still a little “challenged” in working with social media! Definitely keep doing this….. it is very helpful! Glad to hear about the success with the book!

  3. Thank you Nancy!

  4. TC Conner said

    With over a foot of snow, it’s really pointless to photograph any of my gardens because I can’t see nothin but white anyway. But it is wise to take note of the winter garden landscape when you can see it “naked.” I’m lookin for a spot for a new clematis, and seeing the bare garden in winter (the snowless bare garden) allows me the chance to find an area that needs color and/or foliage.

    “This month in the garden” is turning into one with lots of bright color – snow white color! Need any Ms. Helen?

    • Actually, T.C. all the more reason to shoot the garden. It’s good to see the bones anytime. Yes, T.C I want a foot for a weekend…can you work on that for me, please? A friend sent me some great photos of her RED chair and GREEN bench covered in snow to use in an upcoming talk about adding color in the winter garden. We forget the many ways to add color. H.

      • TC Conner said

        I don’t leave chairs out in the snow, can’t use em anyway. (More snow today!)

      • Oh, but T.C. The color you could bring into your garden! H.

      • TC Conner said

        I said I didn’t leave things out in the snow; I always bring colorful things out in spring, I have one gold and one green tire planter for example.

  5. […] WHAT’S SHE WRITING ABOUT NOW… The Amaryllis Lives on in the Garden January Garden Maintenance […]

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