What to do during January in your garden and greenhouse.

Your monthly gardening checklists

Flowers

  • Plant bare-root roses, shrubs, hedging and ornamental trees, as long as the ground isn't frozen
  • Take root cuttings of fleshy-rooted perennials such as oriental poppies, acanthus and verbascums
  • Establish new colonies of snowdrops and hellebores by buying plants in flower, so you can choose the prettiest blooms
  • Clear away soggy, collapsed stems of perennials and compost them
  • Take hardwood cuttings from deciduous shrubs, such as forsythia, willow and viburnum
  • Remove and bin hellebore foliage marked with black blotches, to limit the spread of leaf spot disease
  • Press mistletoe berries into the bark of apple trees to establish your own mistletoe plants
  • Check that small alpines don't become smothered by fallen leaves and other wind-blown debris
  • Deadhead winter pansies and other bedding regularly, and remove any foliage affected by downy mildew
  • Move dormant plants that are in the wrong place to more suitable sites
  • Check for rot on stored bulbs and tubers, and ensure dahlia and canna tubers haven't totally dried out
  • Continue pruning climbing roses, while they are dormant 
snowdrops

Plant snowdrops

Now is the time to buy snowdrops and hellebores

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Fruit and veg

  • Winter-prune apple and pear trees to remove any dead, damaged, congested and diseased branches
  • Sort out your seeds, throwing away empty or out-of-date packets and noting down any to buy for the coming season
  • Plan this year's crop rotation to ensure you grow each type of crop in a different bed to previous years
  • Prune gooseberries and redcurrants, cutting sideshoots back to three buds from their base
  • Clear old crops and weeds from the veg plot, then dig over the soil, mixing in compost as you go
  • Regularly inspect stored crops, discarding any showing signs of rot or deterioration
  • Plant bare-root fruit bushes, trees and canes into enriched soil, as long as the ground isn't frozen
  • Ensure netting is in place over brassicas, such as kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbages, to protect from pigeons
  • Cover rhubarb plants with a bucket or terracotta pot to force an early crop of tender long stems
  • Feed spring cabbages with high-nitrogen feed to encourage leafy growth
  • Prune blackcurrants, if you haven't done so already, removing about a quarter of the old stems
  • Order seed potatoes, onions, shallots and garlic bulbs for planting in spring
Cutting back apple tree sideshoots

Prune Apple and Pear trees

Now is the time to prune side shoots from Apple and Pear trees.

Greenhouse

  • Sow winter salads in a greenhouse, conservatory or on a sunny windowsill, for harvests within a few weeks
  • Tidy up the greenhouse, getting rid of any broken pots, old compost or debris that could hide unwanted visitors
  • Move potted strawberry plants under cover to encourage early fruiting
  • Check overwintering plants regularly for aphids, mealy bugs and other pests, and take action where necessary
  • Bring potted peaches into the greenhouse to avoid leaf curl disease
  • Plant hippeastrum (amaryllis) in pots and place on a warm windowsill
  • Keep the greenhouse frost-free by installing a thermostatically-controlled electric fan heater
  • Bring potted camellias into an unheated porch or greenhouse to encourage early flowering
  • Take root cuttings of perennials such as phlox and Japanese anemones, and plant in free-draining compost
  • Start sowing seeds of hardy annuals, such as cornflowers, cerinthe and ammi, in modular trays for early flowers
  • Prepare your greenhouse for spring by improving the ventilation, shading and heating
  • Repot moth orchids after flowering if they look like they're about to burst out of their pot
  • Ventilate the greenhouse on sunny days to prevent humidity building up
rememberance
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Garden maintenance

  • Top up bird baths with fresh water daily and melt ice with warm water on frosty days
  • Repair wobbly or damaged fences, and treat wooden structures with preservative during dry spells
  • Give your lawn mower a basic service or take it to a dealer for maintenance, while it's not in use
  • Put up bird boxes in sheltered spots, on tree trunks, sheds or walls, well before the nesting season begins
  • Clean and sharpen your tools, including hoes, secateurs and shears, and spray metal tools with oil 
  • Sprinkle an all-purpose fertiliser along the base of hedges and around shrubs
  • Trim back ivy, Virginia creeper and other climbers that have outgrown their space, before birds start nesting
  • Provide high-energy food for birds to help them through the winter months
  • Clear soggy leaves, algae and moss from paths, patios, decking and steps
  • Dig over any gaps in borders, removing the roots of perennial weeds
  • Give empty pots and seed trays a thorough scrubbing ready for the start of the sowing season
  • Remove debris from shed and greenhouse guttering, so winter rain can fill up your water butts
  • Clean out and scrub bird feeders regularly to maintain hygiene
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