Petals from the Past        205-646-0069   FAX 205-646-2626


Monthly Garden Gossip,

January, 2019

Welcome to our garden! We're proud of our hard work and want to share the reward with you,
so here is what's going on in the garden this month. Central Alabama

Wildflower Seed and Bulbs

January is the last time you should plant wildflower seed. Many of the seeds require cold weather to germinate and if planted after January they will not have time to mature and flower before the weather gets too hot for them. About the middle of Janaury we will have plants available for most of the wildflower seed that we carry. Be sure that when you buy the plants that you set them out right away so that they will have time to mature and flower.

Spring bulbs can also be planted in January but they will need time to make roots and flower before it gets too hot. Don't forget the bulb booster.


California Poppies

California Poppies



Keep your pansies in tip top shape by fertilizing them with a liquid fertilizer. Use a fertilizer that has 50% of its nitrogen in the nitrate form. Formulations with nitrogen derived from potassium nitrate (KNO3), calcium nitrate [Ca(NO3)2] or magnesium nitrate [Mg(NO3)2] are recommended. These formulations also have little effect on soil pH, so nutrient deficiencies are less likely to occur. We carry Southern Ag Start, Root, and Bloom, it encourages good root growth and lots of flowers.

Pansy blooms should also be removed not only for looks but to keep the plants from seeding which consumes the plant's energy. Trim lanky branches periodically to encourage compact growth and improved flowers.



Fertilize your hellebores or Lenten Roses with bone meal and lime for increased bloom. As with most perennials they need to be fertilized when the new growth appears and after flowering. You can also use a slow release fertilizer such as 12-6-6 and if you have compost use it on the helebores too.

Remove all the old dead leaves to make room for the new leaves and flowers.


Finish any fall clean up that may have been pushed aside during the holidays. Don't prune butterfly bushes now, wait until after the last frost. Prune crepe myrtles for shape. Cut away all foliage from herbaceous perennials and herbs that have died back after the hard freezes. Most needled evergreens do not need regular pruning but if yours is getting out of hand, now would be the time to cut them back. Prune espaliered trees and shrubs if needed to retain shape. Do not prune azaleas or rhododendrons now as you will be cutting off the flower buds.
If your garden is not performing like it should now would be a good time to get your soil tested. You can obtain a soil test kit from your county agent. For a small fee you can find out what your problem is and how to correct it.

Spraying Fruit Plants

January is the start of our annual spray program here at Petals. We spray all our fruit trees with a Dormant Oil spray at this time. The purpose of this spray is to kill over wintering insects and disease. Spray with dormant oil only if the temperature is above 40 degrees. Note: Do NOT apply oil sprays within 48 hours of hard freezes or temperatures below 30F. The spray could increase freeze damage.

There is an additional spray of copper that may be applied for disease control, fungal and bacterial. To be on the safe side, separate the different sprays by three weeks time.

Remember no planting, pruning or spraying within 48 hours of a hard freeze.


Late winter or early spring is a good time to prune Limelight Hydrangeas. Since they bloom on new wood. Any heavy pruning should be done before the new growth emerges. They can be cut back to about 18-inches from the ground. The same would be true of Little Lime. It should be cut back in winter or early spring since it also blooms on new growth.

Don't prune butterfly bushes until after the last frost. Most needled evergreens do not need regular pruning but if yours is getting out of hand now would be the time to do it. You may prune your Crepe Myrtles and Lilac Chaste trees. Prune hollies early before they set their flower buds. Repeat flowering roses may be pruned about the midlle of February. Don't prune azaleas or Rhododendrons until after they have bloomed.

Muscadines should also be pruned in January and February.


One Potato Two Potato

Have your every tried to grow potatoes? I have found that they are fun and easy to grow. There are many different varieties and I try to grow some that I can't easily find in the grocery store. In our area they should be planted by Valentine's day. There are several different ways you can plant. Raised beds, wire cylinders, grow bags, made especially for growing potatoes, garbage bags and many others. I chose the traditional method of just planting them in my garden. Since potatoes are a member of the nightshade family choose an area to plant them where peppers, tomatoes or eggplant have not been plant for the last two years.

Use seed potatoes and cut them leaving at least two eyes for each piece. I cut mine up a few days ahead of planting time so the cut edges would dry. I felt this kept them from rotting.

Dig shallow rows about two or three feet apart 6 or 7 inches deep. Place the potato pieces in cut side down with the eyes facing up. Cover with soil and then I mulched with wheat straw. The wheat straw helped keep the weeds down.


Once they started growing I had to make sure all the new potatoes were covered with soil or straw to prevent them from having green areas that are bitter tasting.

You may harvest 'new potatoes' about 2 to 3 weeks after the plants stop flowering. You can do this without really disturbing the whole plant. Just feel around with your fingers and get the small potatoes. Leave the others to mature for about 3 additional weeks.

Harvest when the plants start dying down which in our area is late April or May.

Meyer Lemons

Citrus Trees

Remember to cover your citrus if your trees are planted in the ground or if in pots move them to a garage or other protected location. The pictures to the right are the tunnels we have created for our trees that are in containers. The trees need the sunshine so don't leave them indoors or covered any longer than you have to. You don't want the tree dropping leaves because it is not getting enough light. The winter cloth that we use is breathable and can be left on for a few days as long as the temperatures are low but it also should be removed when it warms up.


The 2019 flower and vegetable seeds are all here. You may start tomato and pepper seed indoors about the end of January. Cabbage, Broccoli, kale and all members of the brassia family should be started this month also so they will be ready for spring planting.

Beets, carrots, snow peas, English Peas and snap peas can be sown directly into the garden. All like the cool weather and moist soil.


vegetable garden
Last but not least don't forget about the birds this winter. Feeding birds can be very rewarding and beneficial to a wide variety of species. If you are trying to attract a particular type of bird learn what type of food they like.  Sunflower seeds are favorite of many wild birds.  It attracts cardinals, woodpeckers, blue jays, goldfinches, purple finches, chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches. It's good to put most of your sunflower seeds in hanging feeders. It's safer from squirrels and raccoons that way.

The fruit Trees should be arriving in January as well as blueberries and blackberries.

All can be planted now and will benefit from the cooler weather and the rain.

Call be retail shop at 205-646-0069 before coming to the retail shop to make sure that the trees have arrived.