Winter time in zone 5 might not be the most desirable time to be outside. But, not all is lost. There are still activities we can do outside and inside that can help prepare us for the spring. In an article from Purdue University’s Department of Horticulture (Publication HO-90-W), a monthly calendar summarizes activities that will help prepare your yard and gardens for next year. Keep in mind that this information is based around zone 5 weather and that timing of these horticultural events can vary from year to year because of the fluctuating weather patterns.
Indoor Plants and Activities
Houseplants- Now is great time to check your houseplants for humidity issues. To learn more about increasing humidity levels or other houseplant issues, see this blog article on Houseplant Problems.
Poinsettias and Christmas cactus – To help extend their beauty, place them in a cool, well lit area, avoiding cold drafts.
Proper lighting- Decreased sunlight is inevitable in the wintertime. If needed, relocate your plants to sunny windows. Be careful to avoid plants touching the cold window panes.
Bulbs- If you are forcing bulbs for the holidays, bring them into warmer temperatures (60°F) for 2-4 weeks after they have been sufficiently cooled. Bulbs need a 10-12 week chilling period of 40°F, which simulates their real life winter environment. Be sure to provide bright light and moist soil in this warmer environment.
Real Christmas trees- It goes without saying to always make sure to keep your Christmas tree properly watered.
Evergreens- can be properly pruned and brought inside for holiday greenery. Pines and spruce are not recommended.
Lawns, Woody Ornamentals, Landscape Plants and Tree Fruits
Bark protection- Young and thin-barked trees, such as fruit and maple trees, might benefit from a tree wrap- especially south- and southwest-facing sides.
Shrub limb protection- Shrubs such as junipers and arborvitae may need protection from excessive snow load. One such way to remedy this is to tie their stems together with twine. Remove excess snow with a broom.
Salt, wind and sun damage- Protect your broadleaved evergreens with canvas or burlap where damage from road salt or excessive wind and sun damage can be become severe.
Rose graft insulation- Protect your rose graft union by piling soil and additional organic mulch or straw up to 12 inches high.
Flowers, Vegetables and Small Fruits
Perennials- Protect new or tender perennials with mulch or straw after the plants have become dormant.
Garden chemicals- Be sure to store leftover garden chemicals in a dry, unfrozen environment. Care should always be taken to keep out of the reach of children and pets.
Dead Plant Material- Clean up this debris in your flower beds and vegetable gardens.
Strawberries- Temperatures at 20°F are ideal for mulching your strawberries.
Seed Catalogs- Now is a great time to order seed catalogs and get ready for next year. This is the fun part!