Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I had a great time being on the Mike Nowak show, “Let’s Talk Gardening” on WGN on Sunday. Young Pamela went with me as navigator and between the two of us we were able to answer a lot of questions. There was one question we didn’t get to that I would like to address.

A caller asked about a poinsettia she bought that had droopy leaves that watering didn’t correct. If you have a poinsettia with droopy leaves water it thoroughly but if it doesn’t recover within a few hours, then you have some other problems. Often poinsettias bought from a chain store have been subjected to several stressors. They may have been sleeved in plastic, subjected to long warehousing and transportation times in the sleeve, or have been stored in colde
r than optimal temperatures. The natural reaction by the plant in trying to survive is too droop its leaves and curl them in. Sometimes this is successful, sometimes not. Setting them in a sunny window so that the soil and their roots warm up sometimes helps. Don’t set them over a heating duct but do keep an eye on them since exposure to sun will cause them to take up lots of water and they may need another drink sooner than usual. We had that situation here in our greenhouses yesterday. After how many days of cloudy weather, the sun came out and really warmed up our greenhouses. Everyone was on water patrol to make sure all the plants got a drink!

Remember that poinsettias do best in cooler temperatures and, being desert plants, don't like to be watered frequently. A quick test for watering is to just pick up the pot and feel how light the pot feels. If it feels heavy it doesn't need to be watered. People ask us all the time how often to water but there is no easy answer. If it is sunny out and the plant is actively growing, it will take up water much faster than if it overcast or cloudy.

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