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It's Garden Time | Garden Notes for Jan/Feb

Now the summer holidays and Christmas is behind us, we can get into the garden and address some maintenance issues. Because it is often too hot to do anything more strenuous than routine watering, weeding, fertilising and spraying – try to do these in the early morning or late afternoon when it is cooler, and more enjoyable.


Weeds usually leap out of the ground in hot weather. For those with more serious areas of onion weed, nut grass and the like, spray with Roundup and reapply as per manufacturer’s directions.


There’s still time to plant some summer herbs such as basil, chives, oregano, marjoram, thyme and sage; and vegies such as beetroot, carrot, lettuce, radish and silver beet.

Note which parts of your garden are hottest and think about strategic planting of small deciduous or evergreen trees for future sun protection.


January is a great time to take cuttings. Why not strike some geraniums? Take heel cuttings of ripe spring growth early in the day while the stems are full of sap, dip in hormone rooting powder and plant immediately to two thirds their length in a free draining soil mix. Keep the cuttings moist but not too wet, and put them in a semi shaded position. The cutting should be ready to ‘pot on’ after approx. 6 weeks.


Keep your mulch topped up to 75 mm thick to help reduce weeds and retain soil moisture. Try leaf or bark mulch, and keep it from direct contact with plant stems so as to reduce stem rot.


I always feel in January that you could almost prune with Roundup! The growth never ceases to amaze me – so lush, and thankfully providing some cool shade. Actually, despite appearances January & February aren’t such big pruning months. We really only need to prune to improve the shape of a plant and remove spent flower heads. Wait till March for the big post-summer prune.

NSW Christmas bush can be pruned to shape when it’s beautiful display has finished, but prune the flowering wood only – not the old or hard wood.

Remove spent flower heads on roses to prevent legginess and encourage autumn blooms.

Dead head hydrangeas to a plump double bud on the stem for a great autumn floral display. Cut out dead wood and spindly canes, and burn any mildewed leaves. Dead head and stem agapanthus.

Dead head lavender and tip-prune fuchsia and geraniums to encourage flowering.

All other exotic ornamental shrubs can be pruned to shape as required.

Autumn and winter flowering plants such as camellias, daphne, azaleas and alike are all budding up now, so don’t prune these now.

This mini prune will keep the garden in good shape till the big prune in autumn / winter.

Trim long unwanted summer canes on rampant climbers like wisteria and jasmine, and on shrubs like abelia and cotoneaster.


Because of January’s vast plant growth, you need to apply some fertiliser so plants aren’t exhausted. Be sure to water before and after you fertilise to help reduce leaf burn.

Fertilise azaleas with liquid nitrogen, and your roses with cow or fowl manure to prepare for autumn blooming.

Foliage feed your indoor plants, herbs, vegies, and annuals with a good brand of foliage fertiliser recommended by your nursery. Specialty feed your Citrus trees.This will keep your garden in good stead till the big feed next spring

.Lightly apply an organic fertilizer such as Blood and Bone or cow manure to exotic plants and vegetables, with an additional application of a chemical fertilizer such as ‘Osmocote’ or ‘Osmocote Plus Trace Elements’. The benefit of applying the chemical with the organic fertilizer is that it gives the chemical fertilizer something to hold onto so it isn’t as easily leached (washed) through the soil. Organic fertilisers are wonderful for soil structure. ‘Osmocote Zero Phosphorus’ is good for native plants.


If you plan to go away on holidays, ensure you have a watering system programmed to come on twice a week for approx 10 minutes per station while you are away. Otherwise, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on the weather and water the garden and pots if necessary.

If help from neighbors isn’t an option, place pots in a shady part of the garden and fill their saucers with water. Soak the garden with 2 deep waterings about 5 days apart before you leave, as this will better enable the garden to handle hot dry weather in your absence.

If you are home, it’s best to water in the evening to avoid evaporation. Longer deep waterings are much better for the garden and more efficient as far as water usage than daily ‘splashes’.


This is usually our most humid time of the year when pests and diseases abound.

Ripening fruit and vegie crops such as citrus, tomatoes and capsicum may have fruit fly and need spraying with a pesticide such as Rogor, Lebaycid or Folimat. Burn any diseased fruit. Viral diseases in tomatoes can be sprayed with Malathion.

Ants on plants can be an indication of white scale which can be sprayed with white oil and Malathion. Check citrus, gardenias and lillypillies for white scale. Brown scale and sooty mould can also be sprayed with white oil.

Aphids can be sprayed with Folimat.

Codlin moth in apples can be sprayed with carbaryl.Continue to keep caterpillars, snails and slugs under control. Either remove by hand, apply snail pellets such as Defender; or spray with Malathion, a non-toxic spray like Clensil or garlic spray, or the biological caterpillar control Dipel. Try sawdust around plant stems to prevent access to leaves. Manually remove vine moth caterpillars from fuchsias.

Vegies, fruit trees and some annuals and ornamentals such as hydrangea and geraniums can suffer from fungal diseases such as leaf spot, rot and mildew. These may need to be sprayed with a fungicide.Check azaleas for lace bug (spray with Rogor) or red spider mite (spray under and above leaves with Kelthane). Mites may also appear on apples, beans and fuchsias.

There is such a wide range of products on the market that I suggest you either discuss it with us when we come and visit or take a sample to your local nursery, ask them what to treat it with and proceed as per their suggestion.

It is generally best to spray in the early morning when it’s cooler and there is little or no wind.

If you’re in doubt or need more help, please don’t hesitate to phone us.

A Garden Blog from

The Joanne Green Maintenance Team.


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