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During the cold month of January, what we really want to do is curl up in front of the fireplace with some hot chocolate and the new seed catalogs. Go ahead and enjoy. Now is the best time to plan for our new bigger and better spring garden.
If you have saved photos from last year’s garden, dig them out and use them to help lay out any changes you talked about making last year.
Make a sketch of last year’s planting areas and add to them with your pencil what you would like for this year and make a list of what you need to buy. This effort will help as you peruse those catalogs.
Remember to order from catalogs that originate from the South. You will achieve much better results from seeds and plants that are propagated and grown in and for our area.
We are fortunate here is southeast North Carolina to have many mild and sunny days during winter months. There can be drought during the winter so it is wise to maintain mulch through cold months and water newly established plants regularly if rains don’t water them for us.
You can spray your evergreens with an anti-transpirant spray (Wilt-Pruf) to protect them from loss of moisture during cold, dry spells.
Remember to keep feeders and birdbaths full all winter long. Keep a cheery holiday spirit going by watering leftover yuletide plants like amaryllis, Christmas cactus, Christmas cherry and poinsettia when the upper inch of soil in the pot is dry, and also including a shot of diluted fertilizer solution once a month.
Be careful not to over-water indoor plants during the winter, which is their dormant time. Indoor plants are cold sensitive and will appreciate the use of room temperature water. Also, keep them from touching the cold glass of your windows.
January and February are great months for pruning. Prune out any dead, dying or damaged branches, making sure to always prune back to another branch. Cut back any overgrown evergreens now. Any type of severe pruning should be done in February, so wait one more month.
You can remove the faded and dead tops of perennial plants. Do not cut your lantana back to the ground. The stalks are hollow and rainwater will travel down inside the stalks and rot the roots. You will have much better success on the return of your plant if you wait until you see new growth in the spring before cutting back the dead stalks.
For optimum weed control, use a pre-emergent herbicide in the beds followed by a 3-inch layer of organic mulch (composted leaves, pine straw, bark, etc.). To prevent disease and insect problems next spring, remove all old leaves and other debris from the beds before applying mulch.
You can plant parsley seeds now; they need some cold weather to germinate. You can also plant amaryllis, azaleas, blueberries, gladiolas, sweet William, calendulas, dianthus, violas, plus a host of cold weather vegetables.
The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned.
Send your gardening questions or comments to: Brunswick County Master Gardener Column, P.O. Box 109, Bolivia, NC 28422, or call 253-2610. Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope if requesting information or a reply. Answers may be printed in this column.