Q: I am so tickled that my poinsettia from last year bloomed again this year. I was a bit intimidated after reading your article last year and never thought I’d be able to keep one alive. I didn’t cut it back to ensure that it bloomed during Christmas, but it did start to bloom a week after. Thank you for the inspiration. — Stacie King.
A: Some gardening projects are fun to try simply to see if you can succeed. The reward for coaxing a poinsettia to rebloom is in the fun process; it’s not about getting flowers on the cheap.
I asked Stacie to share what she did with her poinsettia during the past year, and she replied, “My daughter gave us the poinsettia for Christmas a year ago. We enjoyed it throughout the holiday season and for the next few months. Before I knew it, I had kept the poinsettia growing for six months. I simply watered it when I remembered.
“We moved this past August, and I couldn't believe I was bringing a poinsettia with me to our new house. The plant looked healthy and I fertilized it. I remembered you writing an article on poinsettias so I looked it up. The poinsettia hasn’t been transplanted, but it's on my to-do list. It didn’t bloom in time for Christmas, but started after the first week of January. The plant receives southeast sunlight in our new home.”
Congratulations, Stacie! To coax a poinsettia to bloom in time for Christmas, you might try providing it with total darkness each night, blocking out even indoor lighting for 15 hours per night, from about 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. beginning Oct. 1.
Q: What do you suggest for do-it-yourself lawn fertilizing? Spring, summer and fall applications? — Ray Frohlich.
A: Lawn fertilizing recommendations have changed through the years, as university research showed that early spring fertilization during April and early May “force feeds” grass plants, producing early flushes of leaf growth at the expense of healthy root growth. A deep, healthy root system is better able to utilize soil moisture and nutrients, keeping the lawn in top shape throughout the entire growing season.
Research further revealed that lawngrass is especially able to maximize fertilizer benefits when it’s applied in fall, with Labor Day being an easy-to-remember time. Fall fertilizer encourages deep, prolific root growth that helps sustain a healthy turf throughout the following year. A secondary application of fertilizer is beneficial around Memorial Day in May. Two applications of fertilizer per year, applied at these optimum times, provide turfgrass with all the nutrition needed for healthy growth.
As a side note, allowing clippings to filter down into the turf, rather than bagging and removing, provides the nutritional equivalent of one fertilizing per year, as the clippings decompose and release their nutrients into the soil.
Q: I’ve read the discussion on carrots, and I’ve been growing a Burpee variety called Short and Sweet for several years. They’re a medium-length and very tasty. They can grow to be very large, but never get woody in the center. I harvest the main crop just before ground freeze-up to maximize sweetness. I don’t clean off all the dirt, and store in peat moss at 32 degrees almost until spring. — C. Eidbo.
A: Thanks for joining the conversation about carrot varieties. Carrots usually store better unwashed, as you’ve found, which preserves some of the natural wax that aids storage life. I’ll add Short and Sweet to my new list of carrot cultivars to try.
If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler, NDSU Extension-Cass County, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 701-241-5707. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city and state for appropriate advice.