January Gardening Tips for North Florida
It’s a new year. Have you made a gardening resolution already? If not, here are some suggestions to consider: add an heirloom plant to your garden, start to compost, wear sunscreen and protective clothing when gardening, set up a rain barrel, plant some native species, clean tools after use, adopt one new sustainable method, start seedlings on time, switch from broadcast watering to drip or soaker irrigation, buy from local nurseries, plant non-invasive species, and for fun visit a botanical garden,.
January is a month with variable weather. It is usually dry and temperate with night temperatures above freezing. In dry weather, your lawn and plants will benefit from supplemental applications of water. Don’t be surprised when cold Polar air sometimes pushes south into Florida making frost or freezes likely this month and next. Give your tender plants cold protection if this happens.
The long winter evenings are a great time to begin planning your spring vegetable and flower gardens. There is lots of information available online and many catalogs are also available. It is advisable to start any seeds or cuttings in a greenhouse to avoid damage during cold snaps.
This is also a good time to evaluate the health of your plants, particularly citrus trees. Insect pests, plant diseases, and nutritional deficiencies may become apparent now. You can then schedule regular treatments and feedings on your new calendar for this year.
Top Ten Tips for January
O Check irrigation system to assure they are operating properly. Fix or replace any defective parts to get optimal effect from it during the dryer season. Adjust the system to irrigate plants if temperatures remain higher than normal and rainfall is scarce.
O Control scale on citrus, shrubs, camellias, and deciduous fruit trees by applying horticultural oil while plants are dormant.
O Divide and replant your crinums that have grown too crowded.
O Improve your Crape Myrtle: While pruning is not required for crape myrtles, you can improve their appearance and form. Remove crossing branches and small twiggy growth.
O Observe Arbor Day: Florida observes Arbor Day on January 18th. To celebrate, plant a tree in your yard or community.
O Plant a deciduous fruit tree now to give its roots time to develop before the warm and dry spring months. Choose varieties that need low chill (100-525 hours of temperatures below 45o F). The chill hours are required for the tree to bloom and fruit in the spring. Either pome fruit, such as apple, Asian pear and mayhew, or stone fruit, peach, plum and nectarine, will do well with the proper amount of chill.
O Protect tender plants from frost or freezes which are likely this month and next. Be ready to cover tender plants to minimize damage. Make sure covers reach the ground to take advantage of the heat radiated upward from the soil. Both Satsuma mandarin and Meyer lemon trees are citrus varieties that will grow in north Florida, and will tolerate cold temperatures. When the mercury dips below 20o F, it is best to protect them.
O Prune Shrubs and Trees: non-spring flowering shrubs and trees should be pruned this month to improve form. Rose bushes should also be pruned between January 15 and February 15.
O Select and plant camellias. Visit local nurseries for the best selection of colors and forms.
O Start to Compost: Composting is environmentally friendly and produces a beneficial soil amendment or mulch. Fallen leaves provide the carbon ingredient needed for successful composting.
Suggestions for varieties that do well in our area are listed below.
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