What to do during January in your garden and greenhouse.

Your monthly gardening checklists


  • 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 dormantĀ 

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  • Sort out your seeds, throwing away empty or out-of-date packets and noting down any to buy for the coming season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


  • 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

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 oilĀ 
  • 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