Consider moving your plants away from windows on exceptionally cold nights or you may risk cold damage.

A New Year is upon us, and so is a cold couple of months. Don’t let the winter darkness get you down, though. There’s plenty of things you can do to stay busy until the sun decides to warm us up again!
• Houseplants: We don’t realize it, but plants collect dust. It’s important to dust the leaves of your houseplants over the winter. Not only are your plants already receiving less light than normal, but the dust will hinder the plants from being able to absorb the nutrients they need from light.
Microfiber cloths with a spray of mild soap and water, baby wipes or a feather duster work well. However, if you want to truly pamper your plants, try using Leaf Shine to give them that extra sheen.
Now is a great time to be sure that each of your houseplants are receiving the correct care. Take some time to research your plants and their specific requirements. Some may require more humidity, water or sunlight than others; some may require less.
Consider moving your plants away from windows on exceptionally cold nights. Otherwise, you may risk cold damage.
It’s recommended that you move any cast stone or pottery to the garage or basement in order to prevent damage during the winter season.
If your containers are too large to move, cover them up to prevent water from collecting in them or turn them upside down during the winter so water will not collect, freeze and cause breakage.
For those that have a wood burning stove or a fireplace, storing firewood inside your home isn’t recommended. Only bring in enough to burn at one time.
Otherwise, bark and other wood-boring beetles might emerge inside your home and wreak havoc on your houseplants.
Wood stoves are notorious for drying out the air in your home, which can harm some of your plants.
If you have a wood stove, make sure you’re adequately misting your plants that prefer humidity. If you don’t want the hassle of having to remember to mist your plants, try placing your pots in a tray full of pebbles and water so that the plants can absorb the humidity on their own time; or simply run a humidifier near them.
If you have a Christmas Cactus, when the blooms begin dropping, pinch off the blooms and begin a 5-week dormant cycle.
Don’t water or fertilize for all five weeks. After this period, begin bi-weekly feedings with a 20-20-20 fertilizer. This should help your Christmas Cactus rebloom in the spring.
• Holiday Storage Hacks: Before taking down your decorations for the season, take a photo! Next year, you’ll be able to look at the photo and know exactly where you put everything before.
As you’re putting your artificial tree away, you may have a difficult time trying to tame it. If you have any old belts that aren’t being used, wrap them around the tree and secure them.
If your tree box is falling apart or you’re looking for an alternative way to store your tree, we have tree storage bags available.
When storing wreaths, try hooking them around a coat hanger and covering them with a dust bag or trash bag. Treat them with the same care that you give your favorite party dress — by hanging it in your wardrobe or in the closet that you rarely use.
If you have any ornaments that are smaller in size, storing them in used egg cartons is an awesome way to reduce your waste and reduce the amount of space that your ornaments may be taking up. Other useful storage options include re-useable take-out containers plastic cups and coffee filters. Extra shoe boxes or Amazon boxes can be used for bigger storage if you don’t want to buy plastic tubs. Don’t forget to label! Labeling is one of the best things you could do to save yourself from a headache next holiday season.
When putting your lights away, after wrapping them up, use cable ties or craft pipe cleaners to secure the lights together.
This will streamline next year’s decorating, since you won’t be wasting time wrestling with your lights trying to untangle them. Alternatively, you could wrap your lights around a slab of thick cardboard.
If some of your lights have burnt out, we have a large assortment of replacement bulbs to choose from.
• Outdoors: If you have a pond, use a deicer to prevent solid ice formation on the pond.
This allows for good gas and oxygen exchange between the air and water so fish can stay alive over the winter Do not feed your fish until the water temperature is at least 50 degrees.
Their metabolism shuts down in cooler temperatures and food will not digest resulting in illness or death. Be careful to keep all ice melting products and materials away from landscape plants.
Builder’s or all-purpose sand is a good alternative to improve traction without damaging plants.
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’ll be ready to go relatively soon, start their seeds as well.
Toward the end of January, there are some seeds you should be starting indoors. Broccoli, cabbage and cold crops can be started inside.
Finally, always be sure to remove heavy snow from evergreens and shrubs as soon as possible after a storm. Heavy snow or ice accumulating on the branches can cause serious damage.
Using a broom, brush in an upward sweeping motion to knock the snow off. If the plants are coated with ice, don’t touch them and allow the snow to melt. Attempting to brush plants that are coated in ice may cause breakage to the stems or the plant.
(Editor’s Note: Ken Morgan is the owner of Robin’s Nest Floral and Garden Center in Easton, Md.)