Heavy snows need to be brushed off from tree and shrub branches to prevent breaking.
Ice events can cause broken branches. Prune out damage.
Recycled evergreen boughs from the holidays can be used to mulch perennial beds when extra protection is needed during cold winter.
On warm days, check perennials for frost heaving by the freezing and thawing of the soil. Firmly press down any that have lifted and cover with at least 2 inches of mulch.
Plan flower beds now. Changes can be made early in the spring.
Sow hardy perennial seeds indoors for transplanting in spring.
Plant cool season annual seeds like pansy, snapdragon, alyssum, and dianthus indoors now for spring bloom. For more information, see MU extension guide g6570 Starting Plants Indoors From Seeds https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6570.
As a reminder, make sure to wrap trunks on young trees with light colored cloth or tree wrapping to prevent sunscald on the trunk.
Cut branches of forsythia, pussy willow, crabapple, quince and other early spring-flowering plants to force blooms indoors. Place cut stems in warm water and set in a cool location.
Work on your landscape plan. Make an inventory of the plants and note their location and past performance. Plan changes on paper first.
"Leaf" through nursery catalogs and make plans for landscape, garden and orchard additions. Order plants early for best selection.
Review your vegetable garden plans. Make a sketch on paper listing what to grow, spacing and the number of plants needed. Bigger or smaller? What varieties? Does timing for seeding and transplanting need to change? For more information, see MU extension guide g6201 Vegetable Planting Calendar https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6201.
As seed and nursery catalogs arrive, compare variety selections, seed and plant prices, and shipping costs for the upcoming garden season.
Analyze last year's planting, fertilizing and spraying records. Make notes of things to that worked, things you want to do differently, and things you wish to try. Consider purchasing "From Seed to Harvest and Beyond: Garden Journal and Calendar" https://extension2.missouri.edu/mp928.
Try sowing lettuce and spinach in trays or salad boxes for a winter treat. (Works best with supplemental lighting.)
Place fruit tree and small fruit orders from reputable nurseries no later than January to receive shipment in the spring.
It is time to start thinking FRUIT TREE MAINTENANCE. Plan to prune, spray and make a schedule of what needs to be done and when! For more information, see MU extension guide g6010 Fruit Spray Schedules for the Homeowner https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6010.
Check young fruit trees for rodent and deer injury on lower trunks. Trunk protection can help prevent injury.
Purchase pesticides and fertilizers for upcoming season.
Order early for best selection of rhubarb, asparagus, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry and blueberry transplants for setting out in March and April. For more information, see MU extension guide g6005 Fruit Cultivars for Home Plantings https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6005.
Prune out blackberry and raspberry floricanes that fruited during the last growing season and shorten laterals to 12 to 18 inches on remaining blackberry canes.
Cleaning leaves on houseplants will allow them to gather light more efficiently and will result in better growth. A damp cloth or feather duster can easily remove dust.
Do not over-water plants during the winter months. Always check the soil for dryness before watering. They need less water during this time.
If plants dry out too fast, make sure they are sitting away from heat vents or drafty areas.
Keep holiday poinsettias and cactus near a bright window. Water when the top of the soil becomes dry. Avoid overwatering.
Allow tap water to warm to room temperature before using on houseplants.
Check houseplants for insect pest issues. Insecticidal soap is a safe and easy method for controlling them indoors. For scale and mealy bugs, alcohol on a cotton swab can easily remove them. For more information, see MU extension guide g7273 Least Toxic Control Methods to Manage Indoor Plant Pests https://extension2.missouri.edu/g7273.
For winter blues, forcing bulbs can add a little color to your windowsill. Paper whites, tulips and hyacinth are cheerful flowers to try. Make sure tulips and hyacinth are pre-chilled or they won't bloom. For more information, see MU extension guide g6550 Forcing Bulbs for Indoor Bloom https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6570.
If the weather is mild (dry with non-frozen ground), remove sticks and matted leaves from the lawn surface.
Take time now to relax and read all of those horticultural magazines and garden books that were put aside during the busy holiday season.
This is a good time for cleaning, sharpening, repairing, or replacing tools and equipment. Make sure to give your tools a good oiling before putting away.