Colorado Gardening Calendar for January 2023

By Linda McDonnell, CSU Extension – Denver Master Gardener since 2013

January is typically a restful period for gardeners – a  time to pour over seed company websites or catalogs, review last year’s successes or blunders, set goals for the upcoming season, and investigate new gardening topics. But even though we may be ‘armchair gardening’, it is important to keep a watchful eye for issues that crop up in the landscape. Don’t forget to occasionally stroll through the garden, especially after storms, to inspect trees and plants. Take care of any issues as soon as you’re able to avoid complications later.

Let’s take a look at recommendations for the month.

Trees and Shrubs

  • We’re huge proponents of winter watering, but thanks to a sloppy, moisture-rich late December snowstorm, watering may not be needed in January. This could begin to change later in the month though, so monitor conditions with special attention to new plantings. Four weeks without sizeable moisture is the signal to drag the hoses out.
  • Regularly examine trees and shrubs for snapped limbs and bark damage due to snow loads or heavy winds. This post offers tips on preventive maintenance and dealing with damage.
  • De-icing salts used on nearby sidewalks can cause leaf scorch on evergreen broadleaf shrubs, brown needles on conifers, and damage to turf roots. Use with care.


  • Add additional mulch around perennials that are heaving or lifting up from the soil. Heaving is caused by repeated freezing and thawing, often occurs in newly planted perennials with young root systems, and can indicate compacted soil. Left unattended, it can damage or kill plants. Come spring, organic matter may be needed to improve drainage. According to the University of Iowa, shasta daisy, (Leucanthemum spp.) and coral bells (Heuchera spp.) are particularly prone to heaving.


  • While it is still a bit early to start seeds indoors, it’s not too soon to replenish seeds and supplies at a local garden center or online. Or set up a seed swap with your gardening buddies.
  • If you’re new to seed starting or want a refresher, check out this blog post for a thorough tutorial so you are ready to go when it’s time.

Denver’s Recycling and Compost Programs

  • Denver’s ‘green cart’ compost program rolls out citywide this month. Meat and produce scraps, coffee filters, and greasy pizza boxes, in addition to garden waste, are just a few of the tossable items. If you already participate in the program, be sure to encourage green cart newbies to give it a try.
  • Have old, unused, or unwanted pesticides or herbicides hanging around? Here’s info on Denver’s program for the safe disposal of many hazardous materials  A nominal fee applies.

 Learning Opportunities

  • The Colorado Garden & Home Show returns to the Colorado Convention Center February 4-12th.  In addition to workshops, extensive plant displays, and vendor information, Colorado Master Gardeners will be present to answer gardening questions. Tickets available now.
  • Audubon Rockies and Cheyenne-High Plains Audubon Society hosts the Landscaping for Water Realities on the High Plains conference on February 4th.  Virtual attendance is free. Program and registration info here.
  • CSU’s Extension website is always available to provide science-based gardening information. It’s a good one to bookmark.

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