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30 December 2013

January Gardening Tasks

Although the days will slowly start to lengthen in January, the temperature will fall, with overnight frosts likely. Some of this month's tasks involve fighting the weather while others are preparing for the spring.

You can sow seeds of lobelia, begonia, pelargonium and salvia if you have a heated greenhouse or propagator, to provide early plants. You can also sow sweet peas, and if you started some in the autumn they may need potting-on.

This is the last chance to sow seeds that need frost in order to germinate - examples being native tree and shrub seeds, and alpine plants.

Lily bulbs can be planted in pots or in borders during mild spells.

Continue to plant bareroot deciduous hedging plants and trees, putting any stakes in first to avoid damaging your plants.

Plant roses, but not in places where roses were previously grown as this can lead to problems with replant diseases.

Move established deciduous trees and shrubs, provided the ground is not frozen or waterlogged.

Consider planting dogwoods, salix and white-stemmed rubus shrubs to give you a fine winter display.

During spells of mild, dry weather, you can still lift and divide herbaceous perennials to increase stocks, and to perk up tired or poorly flowering clumps.

You can take root cuttings of plants such as verbascum, acanthus and phlox.

Now is the time to take hardwood cuttings of ornamental shrubs such as salix, cornus, weigela, escallonia, forsythia, ribes and elaeagnus, and also of deciduous climbers such as fallopia and lonicera.

Hardwood cuttings taken last year may need potting-on or planting out.

Start cutting back grasses and other perennials left for winter interest.

Ensure that tender plants left to over-winter outdoors are protected with straw or fleece.

Make sure that any non frost-proof containers are protected from the cold with bubble wrap, fleece or hessian. Placing them in a group near a south-facing wall will also help.

Keep your garden tidy by removing leaves, especially any that have landed on alpine beds, and by removing debris from your containers.

Some pots - especially those sheltered from the rain - may need watering. Try to keep pots moist but not too wet, and don't let them dry out.

Check tree ties and stakes on established plants and replace or adjust them as required. Also tie in wall shrubs and climbers to protect them from wind damage.

Firm back newly planted trees and shrubs if they have been lifted by strong winds or frost action.

Following a snowfall you should consider brushing it off the branches of conifers, climbers and light-limbed shrubs and trees. The weight of snow can damage and spoil the shape of the tree.

You can prune many deciduous trees, shrubs and hedges now as they are dormant. However evergreens and tender plants are best left until spring, as are ornamental cherries, plums and almonds.

Check that your houseplants are in a place where they will receive the correct amount of light and heat for their requirements, and don't over-water them.

While you are tucked up inside your warm home, please spare a thought for the birds and put out food for them regularly. Also try to provide them with a source of water for drinking and bathing.

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