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Monthly Garden Gossip

Januay, 2018

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 also. Don't forget the bulb booster.

Red Poppies

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.


Fertilize your Helebores 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.

Lenten Roses

Fruit Plants and Trees

Most of our fruit trees should arrive by the end of January. We already have quite a few things in stock. A good selection of apples as well as well as blackberries and blueberries. All can be planted now and will benefit from the cool weather and moist soils. 

Do remember to water newly planted trees when there is no rainfall.

Asian Pears
Keep cleaning up and mulching your perennial borders and herb gardens. Now is a good time to add lime to the vegetable garden as well as compost

The 2018 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.

If you are planning to plant potatoes this year try to get them in the ground by Valentines Day.


Keep fertilizing your pansies 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.

Don't forget to feed 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.

Continue to either cover your potted citrus plants or bring them to a location where they won't be damaged.

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 should be removed when it warms up.

Cover Cloth Tunnel