January Gardening Chores for the Deep South

Although we have had some bitter cold weather this Winter and last, we still experience intermittent warm spells during the Winter in Alabama and Georgia. During these warm spells is when I like to get my outdoor chores done.

If you haven't already, clean up the garden before you do anything else. Debris from dead plants allowed to stay on the ground can be a haven for insect pests and mice. Exceptions to this are seed heads you know to be favored by songbirds, such as Black-eyed Susan.

Planting can be done year round in the South, but Fall and Winter are the best planting times for shrubs and trees in areas of the South that suffer brutally hot and dry summers. Planting of azaleas and camellias is best done in the Fall, to give the shrubs time to dig their roots into their new home before having to endure hot days with no rain. You can still plant them now, but you will need to water once a week if it doesn't rain.

Pruning of summer blooming shrubs and trees can be done anytime during the Winter and early Spring. Doing it on a warm day in January will give your garden a neater appearance and free you up for planting early Spring crops when the time comes.

There are actually some vegetable seeds we can sow now. Sugar Snap Peas and Snow peas will germinate in cool soil. If you plant them now, you can enjoy a crisp snack before warm season crops can even be planted.

January is the best time to plant bare root roses. They are available in most local garden centers now, or you can purchase them online.

If you are anything like me, you have some shrubs and trees that you planted in the wrong spot. January is an excellent time for moving those to a better location. 

Anytime is a good time to eliminate invasive privet and Japanese honeysuckle from the garden, but it's easier to do in the Winter. Both privet and Japanese honeysuckle are evergreen, so when growing amongst deciduous plants, they are easy to spot. With all the rain we've had recently, you might have an easier time pulling up small plants, but be ready to clip them off low to the ground if you can't pull them. Then spray the remaining stump with a good strong weedkiller. Wear gloves for this task, and watch out for deciduous vines intermingled with the privet and honeysuckle that could be poison ivy.

June Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Oakleaf Hydrangea

This time of year our garden is always bursting with blooms, but this year has been a little different. Due to a very mild winter, everythin...