Yes, perennial gardens do need care in January with planning, transplanting, watering, fertilizing, pest control, and pruning. Bundle up and enjoy the invigorating gardening experience in the middle of winter!

I love to dream and visualize what new types of perennials I can include in this year’s garden, even though I know from experience that it takes a good three years for perennials to really show out. How do I dream and plan?

1. I browse through the endless seed catalogues that come to me in the mail at this time of year.

2. I wander through nurseries keeping an eagle eye out on the discounted tables way at the back for plants that look dead to the inexperienced eye, but I know they’re just sleeping.

3. I talk to the not so busy nursery owners about specific plants on my wish list hoping they’ll order them for me. Nurseries are not busy in January so there are ample opportunities for beneficial conversations with proprietors in the know. I get some of my best advice from these random give-and-take discussions.

What does optimum care for your perennials in January involve?

1. Mulch, mulch, and mulch some more. Put them to sleep under a warm blanket of pine straw, clean hay, pine needles, commercial shredded hardwood, or my favorite, dry leaves that are easily available from all my neighbours.

2. Fertilizing and watering is not needed in January since we experience cool rainy weather and dormant perennials do not need fertilizing.

3. Insect and disease problems are at a minimum and a few insects are necessary to feed our desirable hibernating lizards and frogs. 

4. Cutting back and pruning old, dead upper portions of dormant perennials does ensure an attractive garden, even though winter dead growth is extra protection for our bird populations which enjoy scavenging for hidden insects and leftover dried seed pods.

5. January in Central Texas is a good time for transplanting and moving around perennial shoots and rootings you already have in your garden. It’s a good time to try out different combinations or just transplant because you know another location would be more viable with optimum conditions.

6. January is also a great time to create a new bed like I want to do this year. I feel the need for a bright sunny cutting flower bed right in the middle of my wasted lawn space in the front yard.

Let the adventures begin. It’s a new year after all!

What’s on your perennial wish list?

While the earth lasts, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall never cease.

Geneis 8:22

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