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Garden Gossip

January, 2023

Cold Weather

The recent cold weather we had over the Christmas holiday has been devastating for some of the plants in my garden. The pansies that were in containers and the ones planted in the ground were hit hard, however, they don’t seem to be dead. 10 Degrees is hard for many plants to cope with and especially since the cold lasted for 3 days. I have pruned all the dead off the pansies and I am hoping they will return. I had planted poppies in my garden and they were just beginning to come up and all are gone and I will have to re-plant them. It will be a wait and see what shrubbery has been damaged by the cold. Fig trees will also suffer cold damage when the temperatures drop below 15 degrees. Wait to see which parts are damaged before pruning. We don’t prune figs until about March. There could be cold damage on peaches also, the rule is the same, wait until the tree starts to bud out to see exactly where the damage is. It would okay to prune roses have been cold damaged find the green tissue and prune there.

Fruit plants

If you are planning to increase the size of your fruit plant area or start a new one, our fruit trees should be arriving about the middle of January. We have plenty of blackberry and blueberry plants in stock. They can all be plant now and will benefit from the cooler weather and rain.

When planting apples and pears you must have two different varieties for cross pollination. Some of the plums also require a pollinator. Blueberries and muscadines require another variety for cross pollination. Blackberries are self fruitful and only one variety is needed. Pomegranates, peaches and citrus are all self fruitful.

Fruit plants should be planted in full sun and in soil that has good drainage. Always water in your plants to remove air pockets.

Please check with the retail shop before coming to make sure the trees and plants have arrived. 205-646-0069.


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.

Check your daylilies as the new leaves emerge, aphids are often hiding inside the new growth. A spray of Neem oil or malathion will control them.

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. 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. Wait until spring to prune Carex. Start in the middle leaving a couple of inches of the grass and work to the outside to tidy up the plant.

Muscadines should also be pruned in January and February.

Vegetable Garden

Seeds for your spring vegetable garden should be ordered now. Tomato seeds can be started by the end of the month. We will also have our pre-order tomato program available again this year. You can order a flat of 18 or just one plant. They will be available online soon.

Cabbage, broccoli and all the brassia family as well as lettuce seeds can be started indoors so you will be ready for transplanting in spring. 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 think you might like to try your hand a growing potatoes they should be planted by Valentines day. 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.

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. Prepare the soil by lightly tilling or raking the area. Then sow the seed with 1 part seed to 4 parts sand. This helps to disperse the seed so there won’t be clumps of seed in one place and none in the other. Then water everything in. About the middle of January 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.

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. During the last cold spell when temperatures reached a low of 10 degrees I had thee light bulbs under my lemon tree that is planted in the ground and it was double covered and a tarp over it.

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 should be removed when it warms up.