Colorful nandina berries peek out under a dusting of snow (top) while industrious gardeners prepare to germinate seeds (bottom) for their summer garden in south-facing windows.

What to do in January

Plant a tree on Arbor Day. Texas Arbor Day is always the third Friday in January.

Now is an excellent time to transplant mature or established trees and shrubs while they are dormant.

Sow seeds in flats or containers to get a jump on plant growth before hot weather arrives. Petunias, begonias, and the slow-growing transplants should be sown in early January. Warm temperature plants such as tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, and periwinkles should be sown later in the month.

Don't forget to plant your spring bulbs.

When transplanting established trees or shrubs, prune the top about one-third to compensate for the roots lost in digging.

You can apply a light application of fertilizer to established pansy plants. Use one-half pound of ammonium sulfate per 100 square feet of bed area. Repeat the application every four to six weeks depending on the rainfall.

Be on the lookout
Check junipers and narrow leaf evergreens for bagworm pouches. The insect eggs overwinter in the pouch and start the cycle again by emerging in the spring. They feed on the foliage. Hand removal and burning the pouches is an excellent means of reducing the potential damage in the spring.

Miscellaneous chores
Make your flower and vegetable garden plans now before the rush of spring planting. Time spent in the armchair before the fireplace will pay off in improved plant selections. Besides, it is fun to page through garden catalogs.

Prepare beds and garden areas for spring planting. Add plenty of organic matter for the best results. It improves the structure of the soil by adding nutrients, aeration, and water-holding capacity.

Remember that in order to prolong the life of the flowering potted plant that you received for Christmas, keep the soil moist but provide good drainage from excess moisture. Keep away from heating ducts and heating units. Most of these plants will prefer 60 to 65 degree temperatures.

    (c) 2007 - 2008 Howard County Master Gardeners