Assess any chaos caused by winter weather throughout your yard.
For instance, branches harmed by the elements should be carefully removed. Allowing broken limbs to stay intact encourages bark tearing.
Always remove heavy snow from evergreens and shrubs, always brushing upward with a kitchen broom.
If the plants are coated with ice, do not touch and allow it to melt as attempting to brush it may break the stems or the plant.
Here is a list of things to keep in mind for your yard, landscaping and gardens this month.
Week 1
• If you received a poinsettia or cyclamen as a holiday gift, keep it blooming by providing proper care.
They prefer good drainage, so if the pot is still wrapped in foil, remove the foil or make a hole in the bottom to allow the water to drain out.
Keep soil moist, but be careful not to overwater.
The cyclamen with its unique blossoms needs to be kept cool and evenly moist.
Too high temperatures, too little water, or too low light may cause leaves to yellow and drop.
But with proper care, the plant should continue to bloom for six to eight weeks.
• Start a garden record book, allowing space to record the dates of first and last frosts, seed-planting dates, transplanting, time of bloom, first fruit, fertilizing, problems with pests, and what worked and didn’t work.
Over a period of years, this will be an invaluable record.
Week 2
• If you have not already done so, move cast stone and pottery to the garage or basement in order to prevent damage during the cold winter season. If containers are too large to move, cover them to prevent water collecting in them or turn them upside down during the winter so water will not collect, freeze and cause breakage.
• Continue to monitor the health of your houseplants. Prevent dust from accumulating on plant leaves by washing them periodically.
The days are short now; resituate plants if they are not receiving enough sunlight. On particularly cold nights, move containers away from windows.
Week 3
• When the flowers on Christmas Cactus fade, pinch off the blooms and begin a five-week dormant cycle. Do not touch the plant for 5 full weeks, meaning no water and no fertilizer.
At the second week of February begin bi-weekly feedings of Jack’s Classic 20-20-20, and a second round of flowers will come after mid-March.
• Try not to walk on frozen grass over the winter as you will destroy the living cells in the blades of grass wherever you step. Two or more inches of snow and you can walk on the grass, three or more inches and sledding is OK.
Week 4
• Spring may still be a couple months away, but slow-growing plants can be started now.
Save time later by planting parsley, thyme, tarragon, bedding geraniums, and sage indoors.
Chives, onions, and leeks are hearty enough to live outside before the last winter frost. Since they will be ready to go relatively soon, start their seeds as well. Towards the end of January, there are some seeds you should be starting indoors. Broccoli, cabbage, and cold crops can be started inside.
• Brush snow from evergreens as soon as possible after a storm. Use a broom in an upward, sweeping motion. Serious damage may be caused by heavy snow or ice accumulating on the branches.
(Editor’s Note: Ken Morgan is the owner of Robin’s Nest Floral and Garden Center in Easton, Md.)