January Garden Checklist for Central Texas

by Anthonyfamilyinfo@gmail.com

January gardening in central Texas – what is there to do in your yard and garden in winter? This month is actually an optimal time to do some planting of ornamentals and vegetables. Wondering what to do about winter weeds or if it is time to prune or how to protect plants during a freeze? Follow this checklist for what to plant and how to care for your landscape and garden this month.

What can be planted in January?

Ornamental trees and shrubs planted in January allows time for their roots to become more established before the heat of Texas summer. What is the best size tree to plant? A 15 gallon or smaller tree is easier to handle and has less possibility of girdled roots that can limit growth and development. Research has proved that smaller planted trees establish faster and within 5 years catch up with larger size planted trees.

If you have tulips and Dutch hyacinths chilling in your refrigerator, get them planted quickly in the first week of the month. They need to have been pre-chilled for at least 45 days at 45 degrees prior to planting for flowering in Central Texas.

What flowers grow in January?

Plant annuals – allysum, calendula, delphinium, dianthus, dusty miller, ornamental cabbage, and kale, pansies, petunias, primrose, snapdragons, stock and violas. Plant them in ground or in containers. To keep them growing and blooming, be sure to deadhead spent flowers and fertilize every two to three weeks. Be prepared to protect the most cold sensitive annuals like petunia.

Bluebonnets – If you did not plant seeds in the fall, you might find transplants at nurseries for January planting. They are cold hardy and should withstand a late winter cold snap.

Flowers from seed

Order nasturtium seeds for planting in the garden in February. If you would like to grow cosmos indoors, get seeds for starting the end of January to early February. In nurseries, look for sweetpea seedlings to set out and be prepared to protect during a freeze.

How to prepare your garden

This is the month to prepare for the winter through spring vegetable garden. Build planting beds, test and amend soil with compost and restock supplies. Buy seeds for planting soon and starting indoors.

The cool season garden is in full swing. It is the easiest and least demanding time to grow vegetables in central Texas. Rainfall is usually adequate, there are few pests and fertilization can be accomplished with just a high nitrogen product. If you have the space and time, grow vegetables.

What kind of vegetables do you plant in January?

Onions* should be planted January to mid-February in central Texas. Plant sets (tiny seedlings) of short or intermediate-day length bulbing varieties. If you want to grow English, snow or sugar snap peas, get seeds now because the planting window is very short from late January to mid-February.

What vegetables and herbs can be planted in January?

Cool season herbs that may be planted are perennial thyme and oregano. Also, transplants of borage, chives, dill, fennel and parsley. Be ready to cover and protect in case of a freeze.

These are the planting periods in January for vegetables by seed, *transplant or **dormant crowns for zone 9a (formerly zone 8b) central Texas. Note these planting times are selected for Brazos County, Texas. Adjust planting times for your region and USDA zone. And be prepared to cover and protect plants and seedlings during a freeze.

Week 1 – artichokes**, asparagus**, beets, Bok choi*, broccoli*, Brussels sprouts*, cabbage*, carrots, cauliflower*, Swiss chard, collards*, kale*, kohlrabi*, leeks*, lettuce, mustard, onions – bulbing and multiplying, radish, spinach, turnip

Week 2 – artichokes**, asparagus**, beets, Bok choi*, broccoli*, Brussels sprouts*, cabbage*, carrots, cauliflower*, Swiss chard, collards*, kale*, kohlrabi*, leeks*, lettuce, mustard, onions – bulbing and multiplying, radish, spinach, turnip

Week 3 – artichokes**, asparagus**, beets, Bok choi*, broccoli*, Brussels sprouts*, cabbage*, carrots, cauliflower*, Swiss chard, collards*, kale*, kohlrabi*, leeks*, lettuce, mustard, onions – bulbing and multiplying, peas – English/snow/sugar snap, radish, spinach, turnip

Week 4 – artichokes**, asparagus**, beets, Bok choi*, broccoli*, Brussels sprouts*, cabbage*, carrots, cauliflower*, Swiss chard, collards*, kale*, kohlrabi*, leeks*, lettuce, mustard, onions – bulbing and multiplying, peas – English/snow/sugar snap, radish, spinach, turnip

Potatoes are planted typically in February in central Texas. Order seed potatoes or source locally in time for planting.

Plant fruit and nut trees, both bare-root and container grown. Planting in early winter gives more time for roots to establish before bud break. This is a link to some reliable planting and care instructions by Texas A&M horticulturists.

In January, start eggplant, pepper and tomato seeds indoors for transplanting in March.  

Winter plant protection in Texas

Water – It protects and insulates roots from cold damage. If soil is dry before a hard freeze, water lawns, landscape plants and containers.     

Mulch – A deep layer of mulch – 3 to 4 inches – protects and insulates roots of shrubs and perennials during a freeze. Hardwood, pine straw and shredded leaves are all good mulches.  

Cover Plants – Plant cloth can modify temperatures by 3 to 10°F during a frost or freeze. Cover cold tender plants with a layer or 2 of a lightweight frost cloth. To be effective, the cloth must contact the ground and be secured in place with bricks or stones. If cared for, it can be used for many seasons. Plastic coverings can heat up in sunshine and actually damage foliage, so be sure to remove them during the day.

Move containers – Bring containers indoors or to a garage. If that is not feasible, try grouping them together outdoors and wrap in frost cloth, blankets or both.

When should winter pruning be done?

Pruning – A frost or hard freeze can damage foliage. If vegetables have damage, prune and clean that up. Damaged growth on tropical plants such as cannas, elephant ears, or gingers may be pruned away, then mulch over roots to protect the crown of the plant.  

Pruning of flowering perennials such as aster, lantana, plumbago or salvias can be delayed until the latter part of February in central Texas. If you prefer a tidy look, they can be pruned. Just keep in mind that the average last freeze in many parts of central Texas is at the end of February. But do deadhead winter annuals – remove spent flowers – for continuous flowering.

Waiting to prune plants like ornamental grasses provides winter cover for garden critters and allows some protection to the crown or growing point of the plant. Depending on weather in central Texas, I may begin pruning near Valentine’s Day. When pruning, cut most perennials down to 2 to 3 inches above the ground, then cover the crown with 4 to 6 inches of mulch for cold protection.

Pruning evergreen shrubs – It is best to wait until late February in central Texas to prune and shape. Pruning triggers plants to grow and a late freeze can be damaging to new tender growth.

When to prune flowering shrubs and trees? Wait until just after flowering to prune late winter and early spring blooming perennials and trees such as wisteria, spirea, Carolina jasmine, climbing roses, redbud and Chinese fringetree.

How to prune crapemyrtles?

Crapemyrtles do not need pruning other than to remove basal trunk sprouts, seed heads and crossing or dead branches. If you want to prune them, remove branches no larger than the diameter of a pencil. If you use a landscape maintenance service, please provide them this information. Extreme pruning of crapemyrtles is actually pollarding and in addition to changing the natural form of this plant, it often diminishes the plant’s vigor, making them more susceptible to insect and disease pests.  

Houseplant care in winter

House plants and tender plants brought indoors for the winter should be kept just evenly moist. Inspect plants every now and then for mealy bugs or scale insects. If you find insects, dab them with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to reduce the population. It is hard to get rid of them, especially mealy bugs.

Holiday amaryllis needs minimal water, as do paperwhite and other seasonal bulbs grown indoors.  

Turfgrass

Mow the lawn if needed for a neat appearance and to cut back winter weeds. Most leaves have probably fallen. Instead of raking, bagging and sending them to the landfill, simply mow to shred them. They can then be left on the lawn to slowly decompose, as natural fertilizer. Shredded leaves make a good mulch or simply compost them. But, don’t let the fallen leaves remain on the lawn all winter. An overly thick layer of leaves, unless shredded may weaken turf and promote disease in the spring. 

Sprinkler system can be turned off. Protect hose bibs and water hoses during a freeze.

Fertilizing lawns – Wait until April Fool’s Day in central Texas to fertilize lawns and for optimum fertilization have your soil tested in January to February. It is a good practice to soil test every 2 to 3 years. This allows you to follow fertilizer recommendations made specifically for your lawn, as well as ornamental plants and vegetable gardens. 

What to do to get rid of weeds?

Weeds – Cool season weeds that began germinating in late summer and fall are maturing. Mow, hoe or pull them out. It requires an excessive amount of herbicide to affect mature weeds and it must be applied during a warm period of dry weather.

Warm season weeds are coming, so get ready. Mulch is a great preventive, so ensure there is a 2 to 3 inch covering of mulch in flowerbeds.

Spring and summer weeds germinate when soil temperature is at 55 degrees F. Do you have a soil thermometer? It is an inexpensive tool that helps you do garden tasks efficiently, like weed management and seed planting at the best time.

A pre-emergent herbicide is a simple way to manage lawn weeds, but timing of the application is very important. This type of herbicide controls annual weeds and is applied prior to weed seed germination. If you use this method, shop early to have product on hand to use in February in central Texas.

If this checklist is helpful, I’d be grateful if you would tell your friends. Also, if you’ve any questions, reach out and leave a comment.

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