January Gardening Guide: Start the Year Right with These Essential Tasks

While it is not outdoor planting time in January, there is still much that can be accomplished during this slower season to ensure that 2024’s garden will be the best one yet. This checklist has ideas of what you should be doing this month to help your garden for the upcoming growing season; and, also ideas about indoor plant maintenance that should be done in January.

Outdoor Garden:

1. January Garden Planning: 

  • Initiate a gardening journal to review last year's successes and challenges.  
  • Sketch out a master garden design plan, considering crop rotation and optimal plant placement.
  • Chart seed and plant varieties for efficient planning and record-keeping. 2. 

2. More Garden Planning: 

  • Explore seed catalogues for new varieties and make a list for early purchase. 
  • Consider adding more planters, raised beds, and vertical gardening structures. 

3. Garden Maintenance: 

  • Add mulch to insulate beds, focusing on areas with depleted mulch. 
  • Check for frost heaves and gently press raised areas down if needed. 
  • Prune and scatter Christmas tree or evergreen branches around the garden. 

4. Wildlife Friendly: 

  • Fill bird feeders with high-oil seeds and add a Niger thistle feeder for finches. 
  • Ensure a consistent source of unfrozen water for birds with a bird-bath heater. 

5. Garden Tools: Assess and repair gardening tools, cleaning, sharpening, and oiling moving parts. 

6. Seed Starting Materials: 

  • Clean and organize seed starting supplies, ensuring you have enough for the upcoming season. 
  • Stock up on row covers and hoop houses for frost protection. 

7. Composting in Winter: Continue feeding compost with kitchen scraps, evergreen needles, and newspaper.

Indoor Garden:

1. Indoor Plant Maintenance: 

  • Inspect houseplants for health and signs of pests, trimming off any yellow or dead leaves. 
  • Adjust watering frequency based on reduced light levels and lower temperatures. 
  • Provide adequate lighting by moving plants closer to windows or using supplemental LED grow lights. 
  • Increase humidity levels with a humidifier or trays filled with pebbles and water. 
  • Continue fertilizing with a high-quality liquid plant fertilizer. 

2. Repotting and Maintenance: 

  • Hold off on repotting unless absolutely necessary, preferably waiting until March. 
  • Clean plant leaves gently to remove dust and improve photosynthesis. 

3. Temperature and Drafts: Protect houseplants from cold drafts and excessive heat from heating vents or radiators. 

4. Propagation and Pruning: 

  • Consider propagating new plants from cuttings if suitable for the species. 
  • Prune leggy or overgrown growth to maintain plant shape and health. 

5. Special Care for Blooming Plants: Continue caring for flowering plants based on their specific needs. 

6. Planning for Spring: Research and gather information on new plants or care routines for the upcoming spring season. 

Remember, while these guidelines generally apply to most houseplants in USDA Zone 5 during January, it's crucial to consider individual plant species and their specific care requirements for the best results. Happy gardening!

Jennifer Brennan

Jennifer Brennan is the Horticulture Information Specialist, advising and coaching gardeners at Chalet for over 30 years.