The holidays are over and it’s back to reality with the start of a new year! There’s not much you need to be doing in your garden at this time, but relax, because spring is coming sooner than you realize.
Not a lot is blooming in your southern garden in January except for Camellias! The Queen Of Ornamental Shrubs starts to show her beauty in January with most mid-season flowers starting to find their way. With a little luck from Mother Nature, extremely cold temperatures will not occur often so you can enjoy your beautiful blooms. It’s important to plan for frost or freezes by covering and making sure your plants are well hydrated.
The BEST time to purchase and plant Camellias is when they are in bloom. Our biggest selection at Blackcreek Nursery is between October and March, with our heaviest sales in January and February. If you’re looking for a great selection, then don’t wait until spring when most of them will be out of stock! We’d love to have you visit!
Camellia Grafting is done in February so now is the time to be thinking about what you want to graft and get your supplies ready.
Freezes & Damaged Plants – Wait To Prune
Should you get a cold snap and it damages your plants, we don’t suggest pruning right away. Others disagree but this is the practice we apply to our own garden and it has been beneficial. By leaving the already damaged parts of the plants, they may help keep the lower areas of plants a little safer from another freeze. As soon as you are pretty sure all severe cold is past, then you can prune.
Hydration To Protect Plants
Make sure your plants are well-hydrated through January. Freezing temperatures can cause more damage to extremely dry plants than to those that are well-hydrated so make sure you provide your plants with a drink of water at least a day or two before a forecasted freeze.
In cold weather, it is often advised to cover plants. This keeps the frost off tender foliage and may help to prevent burning. Plastic is a good choice for covering but only if there is a barrier between the plastic and the plants. Plastic if it touches the plants can also cause damage to the leaves and flowers. We recommend putting a light-weight sheet on the plant first and then putting the plastic on.
Frost Blankets are also a good investment to have. These fiber lightweight blankets come in a variety of weights and the heavier the more protection the plants will have. You can expect anywhere from 3-8° difference by using frost blankets. They are commercially available on most internet sources and you can keep them from year to year. Most commercial nurseries including Blackcreek Nursery & Garden prefer frost blankets to plastic sheeting.
It’s still too early to fertilize outdoor plants. Hold off until March before you grab the fertilizer bag. Fertilizing early can encourage new growth which will more than likely be damaged when we have the next inevitable freeze.
There is nothing wrong with planting in the south in January as long as you are planting cold-tolerant plants. It’s too early for perennials or annuals but most dormant shrubs and trees along with some cold-tolerant evergreens are perfectly fine to plant now. Just take precautions in the event of a freeze on plants that are not established. But think of this…..plants in a nursery are in containers, they are not protected from the cold so to speak because they are above ground. When you plant, you have the added benefit of the ground being an incubator of sorts to keep your plant happy.