This helpful list is a must-read before deciding which gardening chores to complete in January

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  • In cool regions, sow seed of winter-flowering annuals like primulas and stocks which have a long growing season.
  • Revitalise tired annuals like petunias, snapdragons, salvias, alyssum, ageratum and verbena by trimming them back, composting them and giving them a growth hormone like Kelpak and a foliar feed.
  • Feed late summer bulbs like eucomis (pineapple lily), nerines and haemanthus, as well as autumn-flowering perennials like golden rod, Japanese anemones and Michaelmas daisies and shrubs like barleria, poinsettias and plectranthus.
  • Take semi-woody cuttings of short-lived plants like pelargoniums, daisy bushes and lavenders as well as shrubs like Chinese lanterns and Solanum rantonnettii. Select non-flowering, actively growing wood with a heel, or trim a 5–10cm long cutting just below a node. Strip off the lower leaves and root your cuttings in a container filled with free-draining, sandy potting soil.
  • Give roses a light summer prune; sprinkle a good handful of fertiliser around each bush and water it thoroughly afterwards. To trap fruit beetles feeding on the flowers, use a yellow container like a bucket, filled with fermenting fruit.

companion planting


  • Sow seed of quick-to-mature herbs like rocket, cress and coriander, as well as beans and baby marrows. In the subtropics, sow seed of green peppers and tomatoes, and in cooler regions, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
  • Pick baby marrows regularly. If left too long on the bush, they quickly become tasteless and the plants stop producing flowers.
  • Remove fallen fruit and feed deciduous fruit trees like peaches and plums. Feed tropical fruit trees like mangoes, avocado and pawpaw trees with a 2:3:2 fertiliser.


  • Fill in gaps in beds and borders with quick maturing annuals which will continue to flower into autumn. If you favour cool colours like purples and blues, plant cleomes, lobelias and sweet alyssum. For flowers in warmer, autumnal shades try small cosmos, the tiny zinnias, marigolds, portulacas and celosia.
  • Mulch bare soil before the heat of summer sets in with a thick, 3–5cm layer of compost, bark chips or straw; this will help to preserve moisture so you won’t need to water as often. Use an acid mulch on camellias, azaleas, blue hydrangeas and gardenias which prefer soil with a low pH.