Once the ground begins to freeze and you have consistent temperatures in the low 20s F., it's time to protect modern hybrid roses from winter's wind and cold. The simplest method is to mound bark mulch around the base of the rose, covering the graft union (the swollen part of the stem near the ground). The mound should be about 1 foot high. If you can, go a step further and set a cylinder of wire mesh fencing around the plant and fill it with hay or straw. Wait until spring to cut back the canes.
Protect Tree Trunks
Protect trunks of fruit trees and newly planted trees from mice and other critters with commercial tree guards or wrap mesh fencing around the trunks. Put these protections in place before the snow falls so they extend all the way to the base of the trees.
Promote Blooms on Christmas Cactus
A Christmas cactus develops buds when night temperatures are 55 to 60 degrees F. If nights are warmer, place your plant where it receives no light from about 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. (such as in a closet) for 30 days. Move the plant to a sunny location during the day.
Plant an Indoor Herb Garden
The outdoor gardening season may be over, but indoors you can grow many herbs. Sow seeds of parsley, oregano, sage, chives, and dwarf basil in clay pots. Once they germinate, place them under grow lights and water and fertilize (with a half-strength solution) only when very dry. You'll be rewarded with fresh herbs for your winter cooking.
Control Aphids on Indoor Plants
If you've brought potted plants inside after a summer outdoors, chances are you're now seeing a shiny, sticky substance on the leaves and small black or green aphids on the undersides of the leaves. Sometimes a few dunks in a sink full of soapy water will control them, otherwise spray them with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Aphids are very prolific, so check and treat plants frequently.