Home (Indoor plants and activities):
• Check water levels in cut flowers daily.
• Check stored produce and flower bulbs for rot, shriveling or excess moisture. Discard any damaged items.
• Most houseplants require less water in the winter because growth is slow or stopped. Check the soil for dryness before watering.
• Move houseplants to brighter windows, but don’t place plants in drafty places or against cold windowpanes.
• Potted spring-flowering bulbs forced into early blooming can make good gifts for a sweetheart. Keep these plants in a bright, cool location for longer-lasting blooms. Forced bulbs make poor garden flowers, and you should discard them as blooms fade.
Yard (Lawns, woody ornamentals and fruits):
• Choose appropriate plant species and cultivars, and begin drawing your landscape plans.
• Cut branches of forsythia, pussy willow, crabapple, quince, honeysuckle and other early spring-flowering plants to force them into bloom indoors. Place the branches in warm water, and set them in a cool location.
• Check mulches, rodent shields, salt/wind screens, and other winter plant protections to make sure they are still in place.
• Prune landscape plants (except early spring bloomers that should be pruned after flowers fade). Birches, maples, dogwoods and other heavy sap bleeders can be pruned in early summer to avoid the sap flow, although bleeding is not harmful to the tree.
• Delay pruning fruit plants until you can assess winter injury.
Garden (Flowers, vegetables and small fruits)
• Order seeds before it’s too late for this year’s planting.
• Sketch your garden plans. Remember to include plants to replace or replant crops that you will harvest in spring or early summer.
• Prepare or repair lawn and garden tools for the upcoming season.
• Start seeds indoors for cool-season vegetables so they will be ready to transplant to the garden early in the season. You should start broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage seeds five to seven weeks prior to transplanting.
• Test leftover garden seed for germination. Place 10 seeds between moist paper toweling or cover with a thin layer of soil. Keep seeds warm and moist. If fewer than six seeds germinate, then purchase fresh seed.