January Gardening Tips for the Willamette Valley
by Rod Smith
Oregon Certified Nursery Professional
© 2002-2017 Rodney A. Smith
All rights reserved.
Protect broadleaf evergreens from cold weather by covering them with bedsheets or
plastic. Tender plants, such as waxleaf privet, fragrant daphne and pittosporum need
protection from temperatures below 25 degrees. Almost all broadleaf evergreens need
protection from temperatures below 15 degrees. Remove clear plastic if the sun comes out or
plants will overheat. Black plastic can be left on the plants for up to a week without damage.
Garden blanket can also be left on because it breathes.
Brush snow off of plants with an upward motion so branches are not broken. Excessive ice can
be melted off with water but watch for re-freezing.
Check stored dahlias, begonias and gladiolus. Sprinkle lightly with water if they are
shriveled. Make sure they are kept between 33 and 40 degrees.
Check stored geraniums and fuchsias. The soil should be kept slightly moist, moist
enough that plants do not shrivel, but dry enough that mold does not grow.
Now is the time to prune, shape and train fruit trees and grapes. Pruning removes
weak or diseased branches and insures good air circulation to help prevent diseases.
Summer flowering deciduous shrubs, such as hydrangeas and rose of sharon, also can be
pruned now. Spring flowering shrubs, such as forsythia and lilacs, could be pruned now,
but flowers will be cut off if they are pruned before they bloom. Wait until summer
to prune plants that are too big, because winter pruning makes them grow even faster.
Slugs will be after the first thing that comes up - your early bulbs and
perennials. Protect them with slug baits. The spray on formulas or Sluggo are safer for
Many insects and diseases overwinter in branches, tree trunks, and plant debris.
Dormant sprays can be the most important pest control of the year. Full strength mixtures
of lime-sulfur and oil can be used when plants are dormant. Many insects and
disease spores can be destroyed before they start to multiply. For best results,
spray on a warm day with no rain or freezing weather expected for at least 8 hours.
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