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Plant of the Month-Poinsettias




A Holiday Hallmark

What’s left to discover about Poinsettias?  Well, for starters, Poinsettias are not poisonous, are available in colors besides red, and the finest are found in garden centers.  Ironic, perhaps, that a plant with legendary, child-centered origins is often seen as one dangerous to children.  According to the Poisdonex TM Information Service, a 50-pound child could eat 500 Poinsettia leaves and not demonstrate toxicity

Legends and Myths

Native to Mexico and Central America, legend has it that the first Poinsettia appeared from a poor child’s generosity.  A little girl, Pepita, laid a humble bouquet of weds at the feet of the Christ Child.  Suddenly, the bouquet burst into brilliant red blooms.  It is known that J. R. Poinsett, American Minister to Mexico, discovered the plant there in 1828.

Selecting a Healthy Plant

Plant health is the biggest reason to shop garden centers.  Greenhouse-grown Poinsettias adapt easily to homes heated from winter.  We acclimate plants as much as possible: decreasing fertilizer, lowering greenhouse temperatures so they will survive without being babied.  Choose plants with completely colored and expanded bracts-the colorful portion of a Poinsettia.  The true flowers are the small, yellow centers.  The freshest plants display the tightest true flowers.  Find plants with dense, plentiful foliage down to the soil line.  Plants should be about two and a half times larger than their pots.  Stems should be strong and stiff, not wilting. Avoid buying plants sold in paper, plastic or mesh sleeves, as these reduce airflow to the plant.

Ideas and Uses

Poinsettias make lovely holiday centerpieces too.  Try some in a hanging basket or in containers mixed with trailing ivy.  When blooming is complete, use Poinsettias as foliage plants in annual beds once warm temperatures have returned.

Not Simply Red Anymore

Though dark “Freedom Red” reigns as a traditional favorite, other colors share the spotlight.  Poinsettia color choices include white, pink, and novelty colors such as orange or burgundy.         

Care Through the Holidays and Beyond

 Poinsettias need indirect sunlight for at least six hours a day and perform best in room temperatures between 68º and 70º Fahrenheit.  Water thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch, but don’t let them sit in standing water.  Garden center professionals recommend all-purpose fertilizers for use after blooming.  The newer varieties have greater longevity.  Don’t expose plants to chilling winds when transporting from the garden center.  Once home, keep them from cold drafts or excess heat.  If you want to attempt a Poinsettia comeback, try the following when colored bracts begin to fall off, cut the plant back, leaving for to six leaf buds.  Place near a sunny window, water and fertilize regularly.  By the end of May, you should see healthy new growth.  Keep caring for plants until autumn.  Poinsettias set buds and produce flowers as the nights get longer.  Starting October 1, plants need fourteen hours of total darkness.  You can meet this requirement by placing a box over your plants.  During the day, give them six to eight hours of bright sunshine.  Do this for eight to ten weeks and your Poinsettias should develop bright blooms just in time for the holidays.



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Fall Maintenance Tips

Gary's Lawn and Garden Maintenance Tips for FALL

  1. Mowing will continue for a few more weeks.  I like to make a last cutting in mid-November.  This leaves the grass looking well cut for the winter.
  2. If the lawn is thin, now is the time to over seed.  The sooner the better.  Do not just toss your seed over the laawn and expect to get a stand of grass.  Fescue seed needs soil contact to germinate.  The best method of getting good germination is to apply seed then aerate, with a core aerator.
  3. Fertilizer, lime and seed can all be applied the same day.  Do not try to mix them in the same spreader.  They are different size pellets and different weights so they will not spread evenly if mixed together.
  4. Seeding should not be done at least 30 days before or after applying a herbicide.
  5. As perennials die back the tops should be clipped.  If there is any sign of disease or insects on the tops I would not use them for compost.
  6. Leaves should be removed from lawns and beds at least weekly.
  7. If shrubs need a late pruning it can be done in the fall.  Remember, spring blooming materials has already set bloom so if they are pruned now you wil lose next spring's blooming.
  8. Now is an excellent time to replace dead or damaged shrubs.  It is okay to plant shrubs and trees any time of the year that the soil can be worked.
  9. Fall is an excellent time to apply lawn fertilizer.  We strongly recommend a 3 step fall fertilization program.  Step one is an application of 16-4-8.  Step two would be an application of 28-4-8 and the third application of 40-0-0.  Allow 6 to 8 weeks between applications.  If you are late starting the program you will be okay if the last application is down by the end of January.
  10. Continue to weed beds on a monthly basis through the winter.



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Plant of the Month-Christmas Trees

Christmas Tree

You have picked out the perfect Christmas Tree, now what do you do to insure a safe, fresh and attractive tree throughout the holiday season.  If you are not going to take it inside immediately, store it outside in a cool, shady place sheltered from drying winds.  If possible remove about a one-inch section from the butt of the tree, just before placing it in a container of water.  Sprinkling the foliage daily with water until the tree is put to use will also be helpful.

A tree in a warm room will absorb as much as one to four pints of water daily.  This is lost through the foliage by evapotransipiration.  Thus, the tree should be checked daily, and water added as needed.  There are a number of products on the market that are sold as fire proofing for cut trees.  Some, when tested, have been found to slightly increase the fire resistance of trees, but their practical use by the consumer is doubtful.  Some additives may actually hinder uptake of water and make trees dry out sooner.  Therefore, adding such compounds as sugar, aspirin or other chemicals to the water, or home-spraying of trees to “fireproof” them, is not recommended. 

Christmas Tree Safety Check

>>>Be sure the tree is well supported & away from sources of heat such as radiators, air ducts and TV sets.  This will keep loss of moisture to a minimum. 

>>>Open flames should never be used on or about Christmas Trees.

>>>Check electric lights and connections.  Worn, frayed wire or electric cords must not be used.

>>>Turn off lights on the tree whenever no one will be in the room for any length of time.

>>>Do not use combustible decorations or flammable reflectors.  Be certain to keep metal foil or tinsel out of bulb sockets.

>>>Keep wrapping paper and other flammable material from accumulating under the tree.


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