January Tips: The Mountain West and High Plains
Start off your garden year right by laying the foundation for a great garden.
- Mountain temperatures change dramatically, causing "frost heave" of some perennials, that is, they get pushed slightly out of the ground. Go out on nice days and simply step on the soil around affected plants to tuck them back in, a process sometimes called "The February Stomp." (You'll need to do it next month, too.)
- When shoveling or blowing snow, try to dump it atop perennials -- as long as it doesn't have salt in it. Snow is often called "white mulch" and a good blanket of it will protect plants from temperature extremes.
- Use calcium chloride instead of sodium chloride on your walks and driveways. It does less damage to plants. Or better yet, use sand, which doesn't hurt plants a bit.
- If you're feeling ambitious and eco-friendly, instead of leaving your tree on the curb, cut off the branches and lay them around the bases of roses or over perennials as a winter mulch. Less to put in the landfill!
Houseplant Basics -- Houseplant growth this month is slow, so don't fertilize and keep watering to a minimum. For more information, check out our houseplant basics.
Forced Bulbs -- Check on pots of any bulbs you forced late last fall. Most forced bulbs need 12-15 weeks of chilling. Remove them into warmth and sunlight indoors when the tips are 1-2 inches high. Roots, usually, are also growing out of the pot's drainage holes.
Start Seeds Indoors Before the Last Frost -- Start seeds indoors for the very slowest-growing plants, such as parsley, thyme, tarragon, bedding geraniums, and sage. You can also start seeds for plants to put out early, well before your region's last frost, including chives, onions, and leeks.
Storing Tender Bulbs -- Check on any stored plant roots or corms, such as dahlias or glads, for shriveling or decay. Throw out any that are damaged.
Bird Feeding -- If you've been feeding birds, continue to do so and check feeders to make sure they haven't become clogged. Also, fresh water is important this time of year. Consider adding a heater to your bird bath.
Garden Journals -- Start a garden journal or file. Tuck into it names of plants you like, magazine pictures, plant labels and seeds, and anything else that suits your fancy. If you're feeling crafty, make your own journal.
Landscaping and More -- While you're doing your garden planning, check out the entire section on garden planning and landscaping at BHG.com. It covers everything from assessing your landscape needs to putting it down on paper to choosing the best plants for you.
Garden Plans -- For specific ideas and layout plans, go to BHG.com's Garden Plans. There are a number of great combinations for everything from shade to property lines to front entries.