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Garden Gossip

January, 2020

Wildflower Seeds

For those of you that are planning on planting wildflower seeds this year, January is your last chance. Many of those seeds require cold to germinate. If they are planted too late they will not have time to germinate and flower before the weather get too hot. About the middle of January we will have plants available for most of the wildflower seed that we carry. When you buy plants make sure you plant them right away so they will have time to root in and flower.

January is also the last time you should plant spring bulbs. They may not receive enough chilling for them to flower.


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. If you have compost use that too.

Prune last years leaves in early winter or just as the new leaves start to emerge. Hellebores grow best in partial shade. Water well during extended dry periods. Hellebores a drought tolerant once established.

Vegetable and Flower Seeds

The 2020 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 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.

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 middle of February. Don’t prune azaleas or Rhododendrons until after they have bloomed. January would be a good time to tidy up any perennial grasses such as Pampas Grass, Zebra Grass and Miscanthus. Cut them down to ground level before any new shoots appear. The same holds true for any Carex grass. They should also be cut down to ground level before new growth emerges.

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.

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. Your citrus 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.

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.

Fruit Trees and Plants

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.