January in the garden

by Andy Cawthray, 6th January 2021

Time to brave the cold and get back to the pruning, planting and dead-heading

Weather permitting, January is a month to start getting back out in the garden. Among the must-do tasks is the pruning of your wisteria. This was a should do task last month but its priority has moved up a notch and you need to be cutting back summer side shoots to two or three buds.

Also cut back the old foliage from ornamental grasses before growth begins, clipping them to within a few centimetres of the ground. This’ll make it easier to manage the plant once this year’s foliage begins to appear. If you have winter-flowering pansies, dead-head the faded flowers to avoid them setting seed.

Down in the veg patch, make sure you remove any yellowing leaves from your winter brassicas; these leaves are of no use in the kitchen or for the plant, and they may harbour pests and diseases.

Should time – and the weather – allow, plant out any bare-rooted roses now into sunny locations, remembering to prepare the soil correctly. Cut down the old stems of perennial plants like sedum, being careful not to damage any new growth. Also remove old hellebore leaves to make the new blooms more visible as they emerge this spring. It’s also a good time to cut back damaged, diseased and the oldest stems of brightly coloured willows, and thin overcrowded stems.


Tip of the Month

Stand early cropping seed potatoes in egg boxes, with the blunt ends uppermost, to start the chitting (sprouting) process


Ask Andy

Q: My fig tree is getting rather large in its current position. When’s the best time to prune it?

A: The fig is one of those plants that the harder you prune, the more vigorously it will grow. It is possible, however, to restrict its growth by root pruning. Using a spade, cut a circle around the plant about 90cm from the main stem to the depth of the spade head. This will cut back the roots a little and check the aboveground growth. If you still need to remove branches, cut them back to where they join the stem. If height is an issue then, if possible, bend over branches and anchor them by tying to heavy stones. This is preferred to cutting back as it encourages side shoots that produce more fruit.

Got a gardening conundrum? Ask Andy by emailing

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