Monday, December 7, 2015

Poinsettia the Number One Flowering Plant?

Little did Joel Poinsett know that when he brought the first Poinsettia back from Mexico that it would become the United States most popular “flowering plant”.  Joel Poinsett, a South Carolinian, was the first ambassador to Mexico.  In 1825 he introduced the Poinsettia to the United States.  These plant sales top over 70 million each year.  The dollar value is much greater.  If you ever have a chance to visit a wholesale nursery while the Poinsettia crop is being grown, it is a site you will not soon forget! 

The question I always get this time of year involves forcing the Poinsettia to “bloom” before Christmas.  I have bloom and flowering in quotes, because Poinsettias are mainly grown because of its colorful bracts not flowers. 

To force the bracts to change color, keep the plant in total darkness for 14 hours straight.  After the 14 hours of darkness, the plant must receive 6-8 hours of bright sunlight daily for 8-10 weeks.  Depending on the variety of Poinsettia you should see the bracts change color.  The easiest way to accomplish this is to place the plant in a dark room with a grow light and a timer. This way you don’t have to adjust your schedule to care for the plant.  My little secret is to support the local nurseries and buy new plants each year!

The other day I was asked when and how to divide Amaryllis.  To divide Amaryllis, wait until the foliage dies back in the fall and dig the bulbs up with a pitch fork so you do not disturb the roots.  Add Cotton Burr Compost to the bed where you dug them out and divide and replant into the new bed about 6-8 inches apart.  Be sure to plant these with at least one-third of the bulb above the ground for better blooming.  Plant the bulbs in groups of 3-5 for a better show.  The larger bulbs will bloom the following spring, where some of the smaller bulbs may take 2 years to bloom, depending on the size of the bulb.

Unfortunately, this nice cool weather is bringing out the Large Patch (Brown Patch) in our turf.  Be sure to treat the areas before it goes into dormancy. Map these damaged areas in your yard and treat with a preventative fungicide in the early spring, so your newly emerging grass will not be attacked by the fungus.

Now is also a good time to apply neem oil or horticulture oils for over-wintering insects.  Since neem oil controls some fungi too, I have been using more of it the last few years.

Beat the rush and bring your soil sample into Possum’s for testing for a green and healthy landscape in 2016

The camellias, tea olives, holly berries, pyracantha berries and of course our fall leaf color … what a wonderful time to be in the Lowcountry!

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.