January is hot and humid with high rainfall. This creates ideal conditions for pests and diseases to wreak havoc in the garden. Be observant and react as soon as any problem is detected. Plant growth is rapid and often needs to be checked with light to heavy pruning. Weeds are also a constant challenge as they grow with such vigour.
- Feed and water annuals regularly through the hot weather.
- Dead head spent flowers to encourage prolonged blooming.
- Water hanging baskets and containers, especially under overhanging roofs or trees.
- Stake dahlias as they come into full bloom.
- Sow seeds of primulas, poppies, pansies, foxgloves, aqilegias and delphiniums.
- Continue planting out young plants of summer and autumn flowering annuals; it’s still to hot for winter seedlings.
- Keep tomatoes well staked, along with peppers, chillies and egg plants.
- Protect cauliflower from sunburn by breaking the leaves over the curds.
- Make final sowings of bush and runner beans, maize and sweet corn.
- Check for aphids and cabbage caterpillars on brassicas.
- Harvest ripe vegetables on a regular basis. Freeze the surplus produce where possible.
- Get rid of fruit that has dropped from the trees by burying it, rather than throwing onto the compost heap.
- Harvest many different fruit types from mangoes to early apples and late peaches or plums.
- Summer prunes, peaches and plums that have finished cropping.
- Tidy up strawberry patches. Discard old, unproductive plants and re-plant with stolons.
- Apply a deep mulch of acid compost to the root zones of camellias, azaleas and hydrangeas.
- Prune off spent flowers on hydrangeas and early flowering perennials like agapanthus.
- Check for lily borer caterpillars on crinums, agapanthus, clivias and other members of this plant family.
- Prune back Acanthus mollis to ground level and mulch with compost to promote new growth.
- Tidy up the dead or dying leaves on bulbous plants like watsonias, kniphofias, dieramas and zantedeschias.
- Divide bearded irises immediately after flowering. Remember to add lime to the newly prepared soil. They enjoy alkaline soils.
- Check vigorous creepers and climbers like wisterias and petreas.
- Trim topiaries and hedges more frequently during summer.
- Mulch trees and shrubs to reduce water requirements and keep root zones cool.
- Apply snail and slug bait regularly.
- Weeds throughout the garden are a major summer challenge, especially after the festive season. Consider using a chemical herbicide where applicable.