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Monthly gardening tips and suggestions (toggle)

January through June


  • Plant trees and shrubs in containers and transplant bulbs or bare-root fruit and nut trees.
  • Plan now for your spring garden design changes or renovations before the season starts.
  • Plant annual flowers this month. Good picks include marigolds, sweet peas, impatiens, petunias, and snapdragons.
  • Garden Essentials: Remove vigorous winter weeds. Prune trees and shrubs; remove diseased or storm-damaged wood. Lightly water and fertilize indoor plants as needed.
  • Remove snow from evergreen hedges so it will not break branches and leave plants unattractive. Removal can be done lightly using a broom or soft brush.
  • Choose some perennials to start now from seed. Delphinium, Shasta, daisy, carnation and digitalis are good choices.
  • Prune fruit trees in January and up to the middle of February, before the buds open, and before the rains begin. After pruning apply dormant oil spray for over wintering scale, mealy bugs, white-flies, and mites
    Desert Areas
  • Prepare garden soil for spring planting and plant seeds of beets, carrots, mustard, lettuce, green onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, and spinach,
  • Transplant artichokes, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, and lettuce.


  • Cold tolerant vegetable seeds, such as cabbage and lettuce, can be started indoors for earlier harvest. Plant seeds four to six weeks before they are to be transplanted outside.
  • Grass continues to use nutrients through the winter, especially during a mild winter. Lawns may need another application of a fall and winter fertilizer, especially if they develop a yellow color.
  • Bare root or potted plants can be planted now. Fruit trees, grapes and roses will arrive in local garden centers during February.
  • Grapes, fruit trees and roses can still be pruned. Remove old brittle canes, leave young canes with flower buds attached. When pruning trees, prune out dead and diseased branches. Cut as close as possible to where the branch meets the trunk.
  • There is still time to plant trees and shrubs and lay lawns if conditions are right.
  • Plants don't need as much water through the winter months; many are even dormant. Turn on your drip system or sprinkler system as needed via the manual program or the manual lever on each valve; it can save you money on the water bill.


  • It time to start planting warm season vegetables such as egg plant, tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, cucumber, and melon.
  • East coast: Start seeds of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, petunia, celosia, and periwinkle indoors.
  • It is time to start testing your irrigation system for spring. Make sure that the filter is clean and all drippers and micro sprinklers are working correctly.
  • Finish all pruning and planting of fruit trees.
  • If you use your drip or sprinkler system now, turn it on as needed via the manual program or the manual lever on each valve; it can save you some money.
  • Purchase and plant bare root nursery stock while it is dormant.
  • Protect your plants. Use your net for frost protection on early blooms on fruit trees.


  • Fertilize the garden as the soil is being prepared for planting. Unless directed otherwise by a soil test, 1 to 2 pounds of 12-12-12 or an equivalent fertilizer per 100 square feet is usually sufficient.
  • Delay planting if the garden soil is too wet. When a ball of soil crumbles easily after being squeezed together in your hand, it is dry enough to be safely worked.
  • Asparagus and rhubarb roots should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked.
  • During weeks 1 and 2 you can start seeding tomatoes, peppers and eggplants indoors.
  • Heavy pruning of trees should be completed before growth occurs. Trees should not be pruned while the new leaves are growing.
  • With water being a precious commodity, if you have not already installed water saving drip irrigation system, now is the time to do so.


  • May is one of the hottest months. Install or repair drip irrigation systems; check irrigation systems to make sure they are working properly.
  • When the soil warms to 60 degrees F, transplant tomatoes and peppers outdoors and be prepared to protect the tender transplants from frost with a plastic cover.
  • Plant summer-blooming shrubs and vines.
  • Toward the latter part of the month it is safe to plant sweet corn. Check the maturity dates of the sweet corn for early, mid-season and late crops.
  • Water newly planted items. It doesn't take much for new transplants to dry out and die before they have a chance to become established.
  • In mid-month plant lettuce, onions, spinach, beets, chard, carrots, parsnips, radishes, turnips, shallots, chives and parsley. In cooler areas start squash, cucumbers, melons and okra indoors. Transplant to the garden when all danger of frost is past.
  • Watering roses with soaker hoses or drip irrigation will reduce the spread of black spot disease.
  • Control weeds that compete for water.


  • A good rule of thumb for watering both vegetable and flower gardens is to provide one inch of water a week, if the rain doesn't do it. It's better to soak the soil around plants heavily every few days using a drip irrigation system to encourage deep rooting
  • The best time to water is early in the morning; try not to water in the evenings or late in the afternoon as this promotes foliar diseases because leaves stay wet all night.
  • Apply a thick layer of straw, leaves, or mulch to control weeds and retain moisture
  • Watch for aphids and other insects. Spray when insects start causing damage.
  • You can still plant some vegetables. These include sweet potato transplants, southern peas, cherry tomatoes squash, cucumbers, peanuts, eggplants, watermelons and pumpkins. Also, you can plant pepper and tomato seeds for the fall.
  • June signals the start of summer. In general, three feedings a year are recommended; early spring, early summer and early fall. Use your fertilizer injector to inject soluble fertilizer directly thru your drip system. Look for yellow, brown, or distorted growth on new leaves for signs to start feeding.