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Continue to use garden notes, photos and sketches to assess areas which need plants
Finish ordering seeds
Continue to order plants from nursery catalogues for later delivery
Chores and Maintenance:
Check on winter plant protection; add mulch and adjust plant stakes as necessary
Continue to inspect ornamental trees and shrubs for scale insects
Use wood ashes sparingly from fireplace as a good source of potash
Avoid the use of salt to melt snow as it is toxic to most plants; use sawdust, sand or cat litter
Check on stored dalias, cannas and gladiolus bulbs for rotting and/ or drying out
Keep bird feeders filled throughout the winter
Take cuttings of indoor plants now to use as bedding plants in late spring e.g. lantana, geranium, coleus, heliotrope, fuschia, begonia etc.
Sow seeds of annuals which require a long growing season e.g. lobelia, petunia, vinca, browallia, snapdragon, verbena etc.
Continue to prune away storm-damaged branches promptly. This prevents tearing of the bark
Prune forsythia, pussywillow, quince etc. for forcing indoors
Prune summer and fall-blooming shrubs
Continue to provide houseplants with increased humidity; mist often or place the houseplant over a tray of moist pebbles
On frigid nights, protect indoor plants from freezing; move them away from the glass of cover glass with thick newspaper or cardboard
Continue to clean leaves of large and smooth-leaved houseplants like dracaeana, philodendron, ficus etc.
Inspect houseplants for insect pests. Remove insects by hand and spray with insecticidal soap as necessary
Clean clay pots by soaking overnight in a solution of 1 gallon water, 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup bleach
*These gardening tips are applicable for an average year in the southeastern New York region: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6a and 6b, which include New York City, Northern New Jersey, Rockland County, Westchester County, Southern Connecticut, and parts of Long Island. Plant hardiness zones refer to geographic areas where the growing season of plants is determined by the time of killing frosts in the spring and fall. Even within zones, climatic factors such as altitude, proximity to water, wind exposure, winter sun exposure and snow cover contribute to the existence of different "microclimates" and can influence plant adaptability.