January Gardening Tips

Birds and Wildlife

  • Clean out your bluebird, wren, martin, and other birdhouses to get them ready for February. Martin scouts and first-breeding birds of other species will be in town in February.
  • There are still some hummingbirds around, so keep your feeders in place. 1 part sugar, 4 parts water. No coloring needed.


  • Continue to care for your pansies, bluebonnets, snapdragons, spring bulbs, dianthus, calendulas and other winter annuals. Don’t over-water bluebonnets.
  • There is still time to transplant pansies, dianthus, stocks, calendulas and other cool-season annual flowers. Protect small plants against severe cold until they are well established (2-3 weeks).
  • Side-dress flowering plants with your favorite lawn fertilizer if you haven’t fertilized in the last six weeks. Use one cup of lawn fertilizer or two cups of organic fertilizer per 100 square feet.
  • Bluebonnets will have an active growth spurt in February and March. Protect them and pansies from slugs and snails with labeled baits or beer traps.
  • Use water-soluble fertilizers or hibiscus food for bougainvilleas and other plants that are actively growing in the greenhouse. Bougainvilleas will bloom all winter if they are in a greenhouse. Keep watering and fertilizing.
  • Many tulips, daffodils, paperwhites and other spring bulbs emerge and bloom this month. They benefit from nitrogen fertilization at the rate of two cups of lawn fertilizer or 4 cups of organic fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed.

Fruits and Nuts

  • Apply dormant oil to control scale and other insects on fruit trees. Wait until the temperature will be at least 700F for two days following application. Follow the instructions on the label.
  • January is the second best month to prune trees… February is best.
  • Bare-root and containerized fruit trees, blackberries and grapes should be selected and planted as soon as possible so they will be well established before spring growth begins. The selection of recommended varieties of fruit and nut trees is critical for long-term success.


  • Don’t prune blooms on early-blooming plants like Indian hawthorn, mountain laurel, flowering peach, ornamental cherry, climbing roses, althea, etc. Wait until after bloom is complete.
  • Keep your living Christmas tree well watered (once per week) during the establishment period (6-8 months.)

Shade Trees and Shrubs

  • If you must prune oak trees, January is a good month to do it. Always paint any wounds bigger than your pinkie immediately after cutting to prevent oak wilt.
  • January and February are the best months to do any major fruit or ornamental tree and shrub pruning. Prune deciduous trees now while you can see damaged or rubbing limbs, misshaped parts, etc, Do NOT top the trees.
  • Wait until temperatures are expected to be above freezing for at least 48 hours to apply a dormant oil spray to euonymus, hollies, oaks, pines, pecans, and fruit trees which are prone to scale.

Turf Grass

  • If you don’t receive an inch of rain, water the lawn, 1/2 inch every 2-3 weeks is enough. Buffalo, zoysia and Bermuda grasses are dormant—don ‘t water them.
  • It’s a good time to aerate with the plug-cutter type and then top dress with a half-inch of compost.
  • Don’t fertilize or use weed-and-feed products. If there is weed growth, mow every 3-4 weeks.
  • Gradually build up low spots in the lawn with V2-l inch of compost, sand, or top- dressing. Be sure the leaves of the grass stick through the compost so as not to smother the grass.
  • Should you need to transplant established trees and shrubs, do so now while they are still dormant and will have sufficient time to re-establish a root system before spring growth begins. Remove at least one-third to one-half of the top growth of bare-root plants (not necessary with container-grown plants) to compensate for roots lost in the transplanting process.
  • January is the best month to plant trees but as with fruit and nut trees, selection of adapted species is critical for long-term success. Select trees for permanence and durability, not just for fast growth.
  • There are still some hummingbirds around, so keep your feeders in place. 1 part sugar, 4 parts sugar. No coloring needed.


  • If you pluck or cut individual leaves from lettuce or spinach, they will continue to produce into late spring. Keep the broccoli, cauliflower, chard and Brussels sprouts harvested (use a sharp knife) to maintain quality and production.
  • Keep your cauliflower heads bleached by covering them with leaves held in place by a clothes pin or rubber band.
  • Harvest broccoli heads before the flowers open.
  • If you notice cabbage loopers in broccoli and other cole crops, use Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) or Spinosad.
  • String-mow your Elbon rye and vetch and till it into the garden at the end of January.
  • By the end of the month, thin onions you planted in October so that plants are 6-8 inches apart. This will allow maximum bulbs to develop.
  • Side dress actively growing vegetables at the rate of one cup of slow-release lawn fertilizer or two cups organic fertilizer per 10 feet of row. Use two cups for leafy vegetables and onions.
  • It’s time to start tomato and pepper seeds if you have a greenhouse.
  • You may want to plant some potatoes this month. Dig a trench about a foot deep and place potato pieces with one or more eyes every foot. Fill the trench half way with good, loose soil and keep filling as the stems emerge leaving about 2 inches above the soil. Fill until the soil is level again.
  • After mid-month, begin planting transplants of asparagus, cabbage, leeks, onions and shallots.

San Antonio Metro Area Gardening Tips