Selecting Your Poinsettia
The plant you choose should have dark green foliage. fallen yet low or damaged leaves indicate poor handling or fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem. The colorful flower bracts (red, pink, white or bicolor pink and white) Should be in proportion to the plant and pot size. Little or no pollen should be showing oil the actual flowers (those red or green button-like parts in the center of the colorful bracts).
Be sure the plant is well wrapped when you take it outside on your trip home because exposure to low temperatures for even a short time can injure leaves and bracts. Unwrap the plant as soon as possible because the petioles (stems of the leaves and bracts) can droop and twist if the plant is left wrapped for too long.
For maximum plant life, place your poinsettia near a sunny window Or Some other well-lighted areas Do not let any part of the plant touch cold window panes. Poinsettias are tropical plants and are usually grown at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F in greenhouses, so this temperature range ill the home is best for long plant life. High temperatures will shorten the file of the bracts Poinsettias do no[ tolerate warm or cold drafts so keep them away from radiators, air registers, and fans as well as open windows or doors. Place your poinsettia in a cooler room at night (55 to 60 degrees F is ideal) to extend the blooming time.
Examine the soil daily and water only when it feels dry. Always water enough to soak the soil to the bottom of the pot and discard the excess water. If you don’t water enough, the plant will wilt mid the lower leaves will drop. If you water too much the lower leaves will yellow and then drop. If you keep your plant for several months, apply a soluble houseplant fertilizer, once or twice a month according to the manufacturers recommendations.
If you plan on saving your poinsettia and reflowering it next year, follow the procedure explained below and illustrated below.
Late Winter and Early Spring Care
Poinsettias have long-lasting flowers – their bracts will remain showy for several months. During this time, side shoots will develop below the bracts and grow up above the old flowering stems. To have a well-shaped plant for the following year, you need to cut each of the old flowering stems or branches back to 4 to 6 inches in height. Leave one to three leaves on each of the old stems or branches – new ,growth comes from buds located in the leaf axils. Cutting the plant back will cause the buds to grow and develop. This cutting back is usually done in February or early March. Keep the plant in I a sunny window at a temperature between 60 and 70 degrees F and water as described above. Fertilize as needed every 2 weeks.
Late Spring and Summer Care
If the plant is too large for the old pot, repot it into a larger pot. Any of he common peat moss and vermiculite/perlite potting soils sold at garden centers are satisfactory and easy to use. If you want to prepare your own growing medium, use 2 parts sterilized garden soil, I part peat moss and I part sand vermiculite or perlite plus I tablespoon of superphosphate per, pot and thoroughly mix.
After the danger of spring frost is past and night temperatures exceed 50 degrees F, sink the poinsettia pot to the rim in the ground in a well-drained, slightly shaded spot outdoors. Remember that the plant may need to be watered more frequently than the rest of your garden. Between 15 and August 1, prune all shoots to about 4 inches, leaving about one, to three leaves on each shoot and fertilize.
Take your poinsettia plant indoors at night well before the first frost (usually about September 15 in lower Michigan) to avoid chilling injury (this occurs when temperatures are below 45 degrees F for an extended period). The poinsettia can be placed back outdoors in the daytime when temperatures are warm enough or in a sunny window. Fertilize every 2 weeks To reflower your poinsettia, you must keep the plant in complete darkness between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. daily from the end of September until color shows in the bracts (early to mid-December). The temperature should remain between 60 and 70 degrees F. Night temperatures above 70 to 75 degrees F may delay or prevent flowering. If you follow this procedure the poinsettia will flower for Christmas.
GROWTH CYCLE OF THE POINSETTIA
|Full Bloom.||Flower fades. Lateral growth starts.||Remove flower. Cut stems to 6 inches. Many laterals will start to break.|
|Repot in larger pot if necessary. Plant outside in pot.||Pinch all lateral shoots to 4 inches. Root shoots if desired, then pot.||Take inside.|
SEPT. 20 until DEC. 1
|Keep in light only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Put in dark place (no lights) 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.|
Summer Rose Care Tips
Aahh, mid summer. This is the time of the year when all the annuals you planted this spring are finally blooming. And the long, warm days seem to intensify the fragrance of summer blooming Lilies and roses. It’s the time to revel in the glory of the garden.
But, then you notice a few flaws. Uh, oh, that rose plant over there just doesn’t look like it’s doing very well. What’s the deal? Mid summer, in all it’s glory, can also create stressful conditions for plants. All that heat causes plants to move water through their systems (evapotranspiration) pretty quickly. If plants don’t have enough water, they get stressed out in the heat. They can’t just pick themselves up and move into the shade or go get a drink of water like we can.
As you look a bit closer you notice there are some funny looking bugs covering the new growth on your roses. Mid summer can bring out the aphids in full force. Especially, if you haven’t had any recent heavy rains to wash them off the plants.
Then you notice that a rose in the corner has some funny spots on its leaves, a few leaves are turning yellow, and some have fallen off the plant. Oh god, blackspot!
And, then you start thinking that perhaps your roses aren’t blooming as much as they should be. If your soil is a bit low on the fertility scale, the blooms may be in short supply. What to do, what to do!! First, don’t worry. These minor problems are just that — minor. And, they’re easily fixed.
The most important thing your roses need this time of year is water. They demand the equivalent of at least one inch of rain each week. That’s about equal to one gallon of water per plant. So, if it hasn’t rained, give your roses some water.
The best way to water your roses is with a soaker hose that causes the water to slowly saturate the soil. These are usually made out of recycled tires and can be laid right on top of the soil and covered with mulch. This works great — no evaporation and the water slowly soaks into the soil. I actually run mine overnight. The mulch on top of the hose prevents any water from squirting onto the roses, so watering at night is great. Just remember to turn off the hose in the morning. Or, better yet, set it on a timer.
Water is the ultimate “fertilizer.” It moves nutrients from the soil into the plant. And a consistent supply prevents the rose from getting stressed by heat. A nonstressed, healthy rose can better defend itself from insects and disease.
Mid summer bug problems on roses are usually caused by aphids. They are almost always found on the new growth of rose plants. They seem to come out in full force in mid summer when there hasn’t been much rain. Aphids suck the juices out of your roses and can cause leaves to curl and be disfigured.
The best defense against aphids is healthy plants that have received adequate amounts of water. The second best defense is a good supply of ladybugs in your garden. I release these aphid eaters every two weeks during early summer and mid summer. They really clean up the aphid problems. Sometimes I have to wait a few days after the release to see the effects, but they do a great job in reducing aphid problems.
If the rain hasn’t come and the ladybugs haven’t done their job, then you need to stop the aphids before they take over. Insectidal soaps work great — they don’t hurt bees, fish, kids or you. But they’ll kill most soft bodied insects. It works by suffocating them.
The trick to success with insectidal soap is to apply it twice. First, spray it on the aphids (it has to have contact with the bug to work) late in the day — usually right before sunset. Spraying late in the day prevents leaf damage caused by the sun hitting the spray or heat reacting with the spray. Then, two days later go out and spray any aphids that escaped your first spray. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they reproduce! If you miss one, you’ll quickly have hundreds in a matter of days. I think they’re born pregnant.
Another quick way to get rid of aphids is to squish them between your fingers. Or, if you can’t handle that, then wash them off the plant with water — a hose set on high pressure works well (be careful not to blast the leaves off your plants).
Rose diseases are what keeps lots of people from growing roses. The idea of dragging out an arsenal of chemicals and spraying them over the entire garden once a week is enough to cause even the most undaunted gardener to wonder what the heck they’re doing.
What to do? First, decide what you’re willing to accept. Remember the words to a Joni Mitchell song, “please farmer farmer put away that DDT, leave the spots on the apples and give me the birds and the bees.” If chemical control is not for you, you can still grow roses. First, you have to select roses that are less susceptible to disease and then you have to keep them healthy by planting them in the right spot and giving them enough water and the right kind of food.
Right plant in the right place. Every garden is filled with “microclimates” that can be good for some plants and certain death for others. You know that corner spot in your garden that always has mosquitoes and slugs hanging out in the damp shade? Don’t plant a rose there. It will get disease, unless its made out of plastic. Plant your rose in sun with good air circulation and it will have what it needs to stay healthy without spraying. If it gets disease, consider replacing it with a variety that has more disease resistance.
Organic sprays. If you have a disease problem, there are organic products you can apply to your plants to prevent and control the diseases. Before World War II, there were very few agricultural chemicals used to control plant disease. And guess what, people were growing roses way before World War II.
To avoid disease problem, remember to: select roses that have good resistance to disease, plant them in the right spot, and feed and water them well.
Roses are known as “heavy feeders” (or how about gluttons) when it comes to using up soil nutrients. But, they convert all those nutrients into a ton of blossoms, which is why we grow them, right?! So, if we expect them to bloom, we have to feed them.
We’ve got lots of pages devoted to fertilizing, which I’ve listed below. But, before you leave this page, there are a few pointers to keep in mind when fertilizing.
- Don’t apply liquid fertilizers to dry soils. The roses will suck up the fertilizer quickly and it may cause the leaves to burn.
- Avoid using liquid chemical fertilizers — especially on Rugosas! These types of fertilizers cause the most leaf burn and leaf drop. You don’t want to hurt your plants with fertilizers.
- Feed the soil, which in turn feeds the plants.