Sow sweet peas under cover to give you a head start in the spring.
Raise any containers not already on feet or bricks to protect them from the cold and lag them with bubble wrap or straw and hessian; even hardy plants need protection in really cold weather. Tucking them all close together in a sheltered spot by the house is another useful ploy.
Don’t allow containers under cover to dry out; and check that evergreens outside haven’t got dry while pots have been frozen.
Pick over pansies and violas, removing leaves with mildew or black spots on them, getting rid of any badly affected plants altogether. Replace these with lovely new plants next month.
Remove debris regularly to prevent pests from taking up residence.
Summer bulbs will soon appear in the garden centres – think ahead to the blaze of colour that dahlias, begonias, lilies and gladioli will provide in your garden and remember that the days are now getting longer – hurray!
To keep your Christmas houseplants looking in top condition, follow these simple guidelines…
Poinsettias, phalaenopsis and Christmas cacti like to be warm, although not blasted with heat on top of radiators. Poinsettias will reward exposure to cold or draughts with almost certain death, so treat them with kid gloves. Beware overwatering any of them. Feed poinsettias weekly, the others fortnightly.
Cyclamen, azaleas and cymbidium orchids prefer cooler conditions and like to be moist, though not overwatered. Dunk them in a bowl of water until the pot feels heavy and allow to drain before replacing on a saucer of gravel. Pinch faded cyclamen flowers at the base of the stem and remove spent azalea flowers very carefully – the new buds are often just below the old ones.