ALPINES can be sown from seed, as they need a period of cold to break their dormancy.
A moveable cold frame can be positioned over the sown area to protect it from excessive wet.
Alternatively, the seeds can be put in the fridge, for sowing next spring.
Winter can be a tough time for birds in terms of water and food, so keep supplies well topped up.
Once you start feeding, don’t stop - they will come to depend on it.
Pot up Hippeastrum (amaryllis) bulbs, and bring them back into active growth with regular watering and feeding.
They should give you beautiful flowers in the new year.
Plant tulip bulbs at the latest now. Some species tulips go on year to year, some are treated as bedding, and replaced every year.
Apply a mulch to protect plants that are borderline hardy, such as Agapanthus, Kniphofia and Phygelius.
The plants’ own leaves, e.g. Kniphofia, can be tied up and used as protection for the crowns underneath.
Helleborus niger (Christmas rose) blooms can look unsightly when splashed with muddy raindrops.
A mulch will reduce this, and cloches can be used where practical.
Continue to plant roses. Avoid planting in areas where roses were previously grown otherwise new introductions may suffer from replant disease (rose sickness).
Shrubs normally pruned hard in the spring such as Buddleja davidii, Cornus alba and Lavatera can be cut back by half now, to prevent wind rock and neaten their appearance.
Ensure any pruning of Acer (maple) and Betula (birch) is completed before the end of the month to avoid bleeding of sap from cuts.
Make sure you have removed all shading from the greenhouse panes, in order to maximise light levels.
If applying insulation, attach it only to the sides and northfacing roofs to let in as much light as possible.
Avoid buying poinsettias that have been chilled, particularly those sold from street stalls on cold days.
Once home, place them in a warm, light place, away from drafts, to ensure they last for as long as possible.
Place hyacinths in a cool, bright place in the home. If it’s too warm, the leaves will elongate and the flowers will fade quickly.