Do you have your annual poinsettia yet? We likely choose a poinsettia by the color of the flower that we like, right? Actually, the colored part usually thought of as the flower petals are actually the leaves/bracts of the plant. In late fall the bracts on the plant begin to change color depending on their type. The flower of the poinsettia is actually the small yellow cluster located in the center of the colored leaves and are called cyathia.
These plants have a lot of top growth as opposed to the size pot they are usually sold in, meaning not much space for the required water. Watering can be a daily issue and make sure that the container is free draining. If you forgot to water and find your plant totally drooped out, set it in a dish of water for an hour or so to recover. Plants like bright light but not to warm so avoid areas near the heat vents and remove dead leaves as they appear.
Typically, any plant moved from one point to another, even from one room to another, can lose 10% or more of its leaves due to the change in light, humidity and heat levels. The store to your house is a move — so expect some leaves may fall. Your poinsettia will likely look it’s best ever the first day you bring it home and will decline from there on. Frowns all around — I know. Greenhouses create and maintain the ideal conditions for plants. When we bring them home — they have to put up with what we offer. Less light, less humidity, less attention and yes, probably less water. It’s no surprise!
Poinsettias are perennials in warmer climates growing up to 25 feet tall. If your plant survives until spring, you can prune it back to about 2 inches above where the branching starts. Then you can plant it directly outside in a garden bed or re-pot into a larger container. They can come back inside in the fall, but getting them to color up again is challenging. Success may depend on how mobile your plant container is and having and empty closet for the nightly dark period.
Fungus gnats can often appear with poinsettias or other indoor plants and are obvious as they fly around the plants. The adults live on or near the soil surface, so inspect all plants before purchasing. There are chemical soil drenches you can purchase to kill the eggs that are hatching in the soil. Another method is to let the soil get as dry as possible, without killing the plant before watering. This will help to kill some of the eggs through dehydration. Larval stages of the fungus gnat feed on the roots of your plants for about 2 weeks, pupates and emerges as an adult to lay 100 or so eggs on the soil surface and the process repeats and repeats.
Shedding light on photoperiodism
Have you ever wondered why some plants only bloom in the spring and or the fall, some only in summer and some all season? Photoperiodism is the reason. Plants normally fall into one of three categories when it comes to bloom times: day neutral, long day or short day. Photoperiodism is the reaction a plant has to amount of uninterrupted darkness it experiences, as to when it will initiate flowering. Studies have shown that even brief flashes of light that interrupt night darkness can initiate flower bloom.
Plants that are considered day neutral are oblivious to amount of darkness and bloom instead based on the maturity of that plant. For instance, there are June bearing strawberries that produce based on being a short-day plant, and as the season progress into summer, with shorter nights they cease. Day neutral strawberries do not care and pump out flowers and fruits over the season based on plant maturity instead.
Peonies, daylily and dianthus are a few day neutral perennials. Everbearing strawberries are also short-day plants, producing the bulk of their flowers and fruits in the spring and the fall when the dark period is longer. Plants that are short or long day, may have different requirements for the amount of their specific dark time. In the plant industry, this factor is referred to as DIF. The plant nursery industry can initiate plants to flower out of season by using and or creating light and dark environments. An example would be mums, for sale that are blooming in mid-summer, out of their normal bloom period. Cultivars of day neutral mums are now being introduced as well. Other tools used in the process to manipulate bloom out of season are growth regulators and temperature control.
The indoor winter markets for the Mankato Farmer’s Market are in full swing! The market is located at Bomgaars Supply on Adams Street by Hilltop Hy-Vee, and the market area is located inside the store at the west end. The Farmer’s Market is held every 1st and 3rd Saturday from 9 a.m.-noon, through March. Updates and information can be found on our Facebook page — Mankato Farmer’s Market.