Gardening Tips for January

I tend to think that since we’re in the throes of winter it’s not a time to concern myself about lawns and gardens.  But that is not the case according to two of my favorite sources, The Kansas City Gardener magazine and Better Homes and Gardens.  I hope you find the following tips as informative and useful as I have.

 Sidewalks and Driveways 

  •         Use calcium chloride instead of sodium chloride to melt snow and ice.  It will cause less damage to plants, or use sand which will not hurt your plants a bit.
  •         As you clear the walk and driveway dump the snow on top of perennials (as long as there is no salt in the snow).  Snow is often called “white mulch” as a good blanket of it can serve to protect plants from temperature extremes.


  •         Avoid walking on frozen lawns as it may injure the grass.
  •         Rake up piles of leaves on the lawn to prevent the grass from suffocating. 
  •         If you missed fall overseeding, dormant seeding can be done following a light snow or rainfall.


  •         If you still have bulbs to plant get them in the ground now.
  •         Start seeds indoors for the slowest-growing plants such as parsley, thyme, tarragon, geraniums and sage.  You can also start seeds for plants you put outdoor early (before region’s last frost) including chives, onions and leeks.
  •         Water fall-planted perennials as needed to prevent desiccation (dehydration).
  •         Replace mulch layers as needed.

 Trees and Shrubs

  •         Prune storm damaged limbs as soon as possible to reduce damage and prevent tearing of the bark.
  •         Avoid the temptation to prune on a warm winter day.
  •         Water fall-planted trees and shrubs when soil is dry and not frozen.

 Vegetables and Fruits

  •         Have a soil test taken if it’s been more than three years since last tested.
  •         Start vegetable transplants for the garden indoors under grow lights.
  •         Check stored seeds for decay.
  •         Read through favorite seed catalogs and prepare orders.  Order fruit trees.


  •         Houseplant growth is slow in January so don’t fertilize and keep watering to a minimum.  Water plants with room temperature water.
  •         Wash dust off leaves to allow more sunlight to reach the leaves.
  •         Rotate plants to develop a well-rounded plant.


  •         Repair garden tools.
  •         If you’ve been feeding the birds please continue to do so.  Check feeders to make sure they are not clogged and keep water available.  You might consider adding a heater to the birdbath.
  •         If you don’t have one, start a garden journal or file.  In it you can save the names of plants that you would like to try, magazine pictures/articles, plant labels and seeds.  Keep a record of your plants and to-do list.  By means of a journal you can make your plans on paper and then implement them in the garden.

For more great suggestions be sure to check out The Kansas City Gardener magazine which is available by subscription or online at and Better Homes and Gardens at

Decorative Winter Plant