January garden jobs

Tiffany Daneff / 25 January 2017

The cold winter months are an ideal time to stay indoors and plan for spring, but there are still plenty of quick gardening jobs to do in January.

There’s no point in looking for chilly, back stiffening work outside if the weather is treacherous. Use these days to order seeds and plants or to make plans for additions and alterations. But on clear, bright days its worth seizing the chance to do a few jobs here and there.

Here are some jobs for cold days

Order onion sets

Order onion sets and garlic bulbs. Go for reliable, disease free varieties with AGM and F1 status.

Find out how to grow onions

Order seed potatoes

You need to order seed potatoes now too. Once these have arrived they can be put in a light, cool, dry spot to chit. Large egg trays are a good way of cupping the potatoes so that they stand with the leaf buds top most without touching one another. With potatoes it is well worth picking blight free varieties like Sarpo. Sarpo Miro is an excellent all rounder, a maincrop potato with nice taste, good texture and exceptional blight resistance.

Find out how to grow potatoes

Sow sweet peas

Sow sweet peas under cover. They’ll take about ten days to germinate and are happiest planted into long pots or Rootrainers which allow the roots space to grow. Or you can use old cardboard inners from loo rolls. Sow two seeds to a pot for safety, cover with newspaper to keep them dark and put them somewhere safe from mice.

Find out how to grow sweet peas

Order bareroots

Think about ordering shrubs and trees now as bareroots. They are much cheaper and will soon catch up with larger container bought shrubs. Bareroot trees and shrubs can be planted now, as long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. If you can’t plant straight away keep roots damp or make a slit in the soil, insert the roots and firm with your heel. They will stay happy a few days.

Find out how to plant bareroot shrubs

Plant winter scent

If you don’t already have a scented shrub that flowers now do think about ordering one so that you have something to cheer up the dark days. Witch hazels bring much needed colour while daphnes and winter box are perfect near the house or path where you’ll catch their fragrance.

Find out what plants to grow for winter fragrance

Put up outdoor lights

An indoor/outdoor job: If you have a potting shed or barn that’s badly lit consider buying an automatic LED light. These are cheap to buy, can be stuck or hung on a wall (ie no DIY hassle or other expense involved) and they are triggered by movement so the light goes on when you walk in.

Saga Home Insurance provides cover that goes beyond what you might expect. For more information and to get a quote click here.


Once the flowers have gone over forced hyacinths and Christmas narcissi can be planted out in the garden

Outdoor jobs for bright days

Plant out forced bulbs

Recycle forced bulbs. If you grew or were given some indoor bulbs such as hyacinths or daffodils over Christmas these may well have gone over now. Rather than throw them away plant them in the garden. The hyacinths won’t come back as big as they were but this actually looks better in most gardens. Daffodils come back very well.

Cut off the spent flowers and feed the bulbs to help them build up strength. Keep giving a high potash feed until the leaves are withered.

Cut plant supports

Coppice some hazel if you have a friendly source near by. The straight and sturdy stems can be used to make bean supports and wigwams. The frilled fingers or branches are perfect for making flower supports. Stick three to five stems above the plant now, before growth gets going. Place these in a circle facing inwards and weave the pliable ends into each other to create a firm structure for the emerging plant to grow through. It will not only look attractive providing welcome structure now but will disappear once the foliage grows.

Start forcing rhubarb

Have a look at your rhubarb and if there are signs of growth cover the crowns with terracotta forcers to speed up the growth of tender early pink stems. Alternatively use sturdy black plastic tubs. A little straw inside will help with insulation.

Find out how to grow rhubarb

Trim hellebores

New flowers on hellebores are often hidden by scruffy foliage so cut these off and allow the blooms to gleam in the low winter light.

Feed the birds

Check bird feeders are clean before topping up with fresh high energy feed.

Visit our garden bird section to find out how to care for birds

Water pots

In long dry spells outdoor pots may need watering especially if planted with spring bulbs.

Find out how to care for pots during winter

Warm the soil

Warm soil with layers of plastic sheeting or cloches to prepare for early sowing.

Brush off heavy snow

And, remember, if its snows heavily you might need to brush heavily laden boughs, fences, netting to prevent damage.

Give your garden a burst of seasonal colour by ordering a selection of beautiful bedding plants, including begonias, busy Lizzies and petunias. Shop now.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.