What to do in your garden this month

This monthly guide is geared to London gardens and their unique conditions. Compiled by the RHS Wisley Plant Centre team
Winter flowering cyclamen
Winter flowering cyclamen need dead heading to prolong flowering

January’s must do’s


1. Now is a good time to plant a small evergreen hedge, if the soil is not frozen. In city or suburban gardens more decorative hedges can be grown such as Escallonia “Apple Blossom”or Photinia “Red Robin”.

2. Summer flowering bulbs will be arriving at your garden centre, look for the new varieties and store cool but frost free when you get them home until it is time to plant.

3. Wisteria side-shoots can be cut back this month to encourage more flowers in the spring, cut back to about 4 inches from the main stems.

4. Now is also the time to hard prune late flowering clematis such as the viticella varieties, these can be pruned to about 12 inches from the ground to encourage strong shoots in March.

5. Look out for bargains in the sales: garden centres tend to clear out pot bound plants in January and these can be planted when the weather is mild. Also look for early discounts on compost and feeds.

6. Winter flowering cyclamen need dead heading and yellowing foliage removed to prolong flowering.

7. Come to the Snowdrop Spectacular at Wisley Plant Centre on the weekend of 29-30 January. Over 80 varieties will be on display, see the RHS website for details.

8. Don’t be tempted to prune back ornamental grasses as these are often havens for overwintering beneficial insects.

Bird feed
Feed the birds that visit your garden
9. Any bare root roses or fruit can be planted in mild weather, make sure you spread the roots and carefully back fill with soil and compost with an addition of Rootgrow to get the roots established.

10. Feed the birds with a high fat content feed such as peanuts, sunflower hearts or fat-cakes, and keep birdbaths defrosted.

Other jobs to do in January


1. Join the RSPB Big Garden Bird-watch on the weekend of 29-30 January.

2. In the shed get all your tools cleaned, disinfected and sharpened for the coming season. Remember, if pruning out old or diseased stems on dormant plants, to disinfect the blades of your secateurs after each plant to stop cross contamination.

3. Shred your Christmas tree at participating council sites which they will then use for mulching beds in parks and gardens. Go to your local council website for details.

4. If you have a pot grown Christmas tree try to acclimatise it gently to going back outside by putting it out on a mild day if possible. Taking it from a warm house to below zero conditions in one step will not help it survive until next Christmas.

5. Any stored bulbs or corms such as Dahlia or Gladioli should be checked for rotting and any diseased ones removed, sulphur dust will keep such problems in check.

6. Keep an area of your pond ice free to allow any build up of gas from decaying vegetation to escape and allow oxygen exchange for the wild life.

7. Make a plan for the next couple of months of all the jobs you need to do so that you can adjust your tasks according to the prevailing weather conditions. Wet weather jobs in the shed still need doing however tempting an afternoon on the sofa with a cup of coffee is. There are some great garden journals available for this purpose.

8. January is a windy month, make sure everything is securely staked or tied to supports that need it.

9. Keep a close eye on emerging shoots and if a real cold snap is forecast have fleece or mulch available to cover tender shoots.

10. In the dark evenings plan a new planting scheme for your pots and containers, purple and grey are this years hot colours if you want to be on trend.

* All images provided courtesy of the Royal Horticultural Society

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