January Gardening Activities - Region 6

Gardening Tips for January

Tropical and Sub-Tropical Gardens

Learn2Grow Region 6 Map

States in the region:

Hawaii, Florida (Southern), Texas (Southern), Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
and other U.S. Territories

Key Issues for January

  • Florida residents celebrate Arbor Day on the third Friday in January (January 17 in 2014). In honor of this important day, involve the community (especially children) by planting a tree at a local school, church or park.
  • Plan a garden with the young sprouts in your life! Growums teaches children and adults alike how fun and easy it is to grow a garden of their own – and encourages kids to eat healthy foods! Six fun garden kits are available: Pizza, Taco, Ratatouille, Salad, Herb and Stir-Fry.
  • Care for your lawn. Even though the weather’s cool, the turf throughout most of your region is still growing. Mowing is still required, though usually less frequently. Use sharp mower blades, and remove no more than 1/3 of the grass height when you cut.
  • Start the New Year on the right gardening foot: Make a resolution to spend more time enjoying your great outdoors and going green. You and your garden could be happier – and healthier – for it!
  • Select the right gardening tool for the task at hand; it makes the work easier. As a general rule, use short-handled tools for small jobs and long-handled ones for large projects.
  • Plant a tree (or two) – now is a great time for installing new landscape material. Trees increase in value over time, as well as increase property value (not just for you, but for the whole neighborhood). What’s more, they can save energy and money by shading a house in summer and allowing the sun to shine through for warmth in winter (if deciduous species are planted).
  • Keep your thirsty plants watered – you’ve hit the typical dry season. Although most plants require less water due to cooler temperatures, supplemental irrigation is still usually needed for some landscape plants. Practice low-volume irrigation and turn automatic watering systems off, applying water only when turf wilts.
  • Bring extra winter color to your planting beds with some of these blooming annuals:
    • Sweet alyssum is a nice bedding or container plant that forms tidy, spreading mounds. Its fragrant flowers continuously bloom when the plant is cared for properly.
    • Cardinal flower prefers partial shade and moist to wet fertile soil with lots of organic matter, making it ideal for use near ponds.
    • Geraniums are vigorous and easy to grow. They prefer full to partial sun and average to fertile soil that drains well.
    • Snapdragons are easy to grow and love the sun. Use them in containers, mixed beds and borders. (Tall snapdragons make excellent long-lasting cutflowers, too.)
    • Petunias come in a wide array of colors but all have a similar form. The blooms are generally funnel-shaped.
    • Flowering tobacco is prized for its highly fragrant nighttime flowers that remain fresh-looking in full sun.
    • Dusty Miller is a great foliage filler for sunny containers, beds and borders. Its soft, ferny, silvery-white leaves complement almost everything.
  • Plant prechilled daffodil and tulip bulbs in containers – and even your garden beds – for some blooming color come spring.
  • Clean and maintain garden tools. Keep blades sharp for easy operation and safety – this includes shovels and pruners. Paint your tool handles with bright colors to make them easy to find in the garden or identify if they’re ever borrowed by friends or neighbors.
  • Be prepared to help landscape plants survive a rare frost or freeze. (January is the most likely month for the occurrence of freezing temperatures in warm, supposedly frost-free, zones.) Have equipment (like dollies) on hand to move heavy container plants to protected locations. Make sure all trees and shrubs are well-mulched (this helps protect the roots), and have cold frames or cloth ready for covering your favorite tender plants. If a freeze is predicted, water all plants thoroughly beforehand, if possible.
  • Plant vegetables for winter harvesting. (Yes, there’s still time!) Some of the best veggies and herbs for planting in January in sub-tropical and tropical gardens include beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chives, collards, coriander, endive, fennel, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onion sets, parsley, parsnip, peas, radish, sage, spinach and turnips.
  • Sow arugula seeds. This bitter radish relative produces tender and mild leaves for salad greens when the weather is cool. Leaves should be ready for harvesting in 4 weeks or so. (Pick a few, then allow the plant to grow more.) Ancient traditions say that eating arugula is lucky – a good thing for the New Year!
  • Water the lawn only as needed. Before you turn on the irrigation system, look for wilted, silver-colored patches on your turf. (If you see any, it’s time to water.) Generally, most warm-season grass needs water every 10-14 days this time of year via rain or sprinkler.
  • Take some time to enjoy the berries (remember, color in the landscape also comes from fruit), as well as the birds attracted to them. Some “berry” special plants include beautyberry, coontie, dahoon holly, firebush, magnolia, necklace pod, wax myrtle, wild coffee and yaupon holly. Are none of these found in your garden? Now’s a good time to plant shrubs, too. If you keep young shrubs well-maintained, you should have years of landscape enjoyment with your healthy plants.
  • Test your garden soil before the spring rush hits hard and heavy. Many home gardeners can get a good sample by using a standard garden trowel and an at-home-test kit (available at most garden centers).
  • Get your bare-root roses in the ground. If you plant them right and prune them properly, you’ll enjoy those blooming beauties all season long – and for years to come!
  • Manage winter weeds lurking in your planting beds. Properly removing and discarding them now means less work to do when temperatures begin to climb.