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January's Seasonal Tips

01/01/2018 08:00

As the days lengthen temperatures can fall dramatically and this month often sees some of the coldest days of the year...

Happily however, there are many plants that come into flower at this time with the added bonus of having a beautiful fragrance.

Caring for your indoor plants
Gutters and butts
Wash down the greenhouse roof to remove grime and let in more light. Clean out the gutters, and empty and clean water-butts.

Activity in the garden
Snow warning
Be ready to brush snow from evergreen shrubs and conifers, as the weight can weigh down and damage their branches.

Stand planted patio pots up on feet to improve drainage and prevent waterlogging. Protect pots in very cold spells by moving them to a sheltered position.

Cutting back
Many perennials can be cut back hard now, removing old growth to make room for new shoots that grow up in spring. Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet' benefits from hard pruning, cutting away all stems at ground level.

Fruits & Vegetables
Dig over bare areas, forking in plenty of compost or rotted manure. If conditions are very wet, cover an area with polythene sheet to keep the rain off, and dig once the soil has dried out.

Apple trees
On trained forms of apple tree, such as espaliers and cordons, sideshoots shortened in summer can be reduced in length now to about three buds. Any new shoots that have grown to extend the framework can be tied in to their supports.

Winter washes
Where pests such as woolly aphid have been a severe problem on apple trees, spray now with a tar oil winter wash. Take care not to splash any on surrounding green plants or paving.

General care and maintenance
Bulb care
Check bulbs, corms and tubers in store for signs of rot or deterioration. Remove diseased ones and sprinkle others with sulphur powder to prevent disease attack.

Water features
Removing pumps and filters from ponds and water features helps prevent them being damaged by freezing water during the winter. Keep ponds covered with netting to prevent fallen leaves blowing in.

Keep winter-flowering houseplants in a cool position in good light to extend their flowering season, avoiding draughts or any dry hot spots, such as on a table by a fire or radiator. Move plants from cold windowsills at night and bring them into the centre of the room.

Move shrubs
This is a good time to move shrubs that are growing in the wrong place or those that have outgrown their position. Aim to lift established plants with as large a rootball as possible. Prepare the soil in the new planting hole well, digging compost deeply into it. Firm the soil around the transplanted shrub, and provide a stake for support if required. Water in well and mulch with bark or compost. It may be necessary to prune out a few shoots from very large transplanted shrubs, as the damaged root system may not be able to support them.

Rake leaves
Finish raking up fallen leaves, especially those collected under hedges and shrubs. These offer protection to slugs and snails over winter months, so all leaves should be cleared away. Also clear gutters which can get clogged up and put all the leaves in a leaf bin to rot down.

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