To-Do List - January

by Karen Bodner, MG

Being one of the slowest gardening months, January is a good time to go through old seeds and do germination tests if questionable. If your soil is workable, plant peas and sweetpeas. If not, put plastic over the beds to let them dry out so you can work them later; be sure to elevate the plastic to provide some circulation.

Flowers, herbs, and bulbs

Sow perennials in four- or five-inch pots and place in a coldframe for necessary cold conditioning (stratification). Examples: Alchemilla, Leontopodium, Primula, Saxifraga.

Fruits and nuts

Go ahead and plant the fruit trees you just couldn't wait to have. You can also take scion cuttings for grafting. Be sure to keep them moist by putting them in a cool place in a plastic bag with a damp cloth or sphagnum moss and placing them in a cool, dark place.

If your cherry trees suffer from bacterial cankers, spray them with copper fungicide with a spreader-sticker. Mid-month is the time for second spray on peach trees against peach leaf curl.

Trees and shrubs

If your roses tend towards disease, spray with lime sulfur or a copper fungicide for general disease control. Prune holly trees.

Vegetative propagation

Hardwood cuttings: deciduous ornamental shrubs and trees.

Sow in pots: alpines and shrubs and place in a coldframe for necessary cold conditioning (stratification) (e.g., Picea, Pieris).

General gardening

Take soil tests if needed; make up potting mix and put in a protected container. That way you'll be raring to go when time comes. Don't forget to water shrubs and other plants underneath eaves. Branches from shrubs and trees such as forsythia, quince, and flowering cherries can be brought inside for forced indoor blooms.


For the most part, insects are pretty much subdued right now and taking their winter holiday; stages are pretty much the same as last month. I've found several grubs and a few pupae when working various beds, so at least those guys won't be bothering my garden next year. Some of them will, however, grace our insect reference collection.

A =Adult, E =Egg, P =Pupa, L =Larva, N =Nymph Beneficials are italicized
rove beetles-A
western damsel bug-A
big-eyed bug-N
minute pirate bug-A
green lacewing-P
syrphid fly-P
tachinid parasite-P
wasp parasite-P
predator mite-A
cinnabar moth-P
honey bees-A
alfalfa leafcutting bee-L

onion thrips-A
carrot rust fly-L
green peach aphid-E
wireworm beetle-AL
cucumber beetle-A
asparagus beetle-A
variegated cutworm-L
western cherry fruit fly-P
peach twig borer-L
peachtree borer-L
apple aphids-E
codling moth-L
corn earworm-P
imported cabbageworm-L
cabbage looper-P
cabbage maggot-P
cabbage aphid-E
western potato flea beetle-A
pear sawfly-P
pear psylla-A
root weevil-L
spider mites-A
pea weevil-A
greenhouse whitefly-N
elm leaf beetle-A
bark beetle-A
white grub beetles-AL
bean and currant aphids-E
stink bugs-A
pea aphid-E
western flower thrips-A
onion maggots-P
filbert leafroller-E
raspberry crown borer-L
strawberry aphid-E
holly and soft scale-N
rose leafhopper-E
strawberry crown moth-L
beet leafhopper-A
western raspberry fruitworm-A
young walnut husk fly-P
sod webworm-L
fall webworm-P
boxelder bug-A
seed corn maggot-P
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