How To Take Care of Your Poinsettia Plant.

To ensure that your poinsettia plants looks good during the holidays, follow these rules and you should enjoy your plant and keep it healthy.

Place your plant so that it receives indirect sunlight at least 6 hours a day. Screen with a sheer curtain if the sun is direct.
A room temperature of 68 - 70° is best, and do not expose your poinsettia to temperatures below 50° F, if you are comfy, your poinsettia will be. That means that you might not want to put your plant outside as decoration during the chilly nights in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Water your poinsettia when the soil is dry when tested with your finger. Make sure not to over water, and don’t let it sit in standing water.
Fertilize the plant after the bloom is done.
Keep the poinsettia out of drafts and away from heating ducts, fireplaces, or warm appliances.

If you want the plant to re-bloom next year, you can try the following program – with a little bit of luck… it might actually work!
When your plant is not looking it’s best, don’t throw it out, instead put it in a less obtrusive area of your house.

In late March, cut your poinsettia back to about 8”, water it on a regular basis, and use a balanced all-purpose fertilizer. If you stick to the plan by the end of May you should see lots of new growth. Now is the time that you can put your plant outdoors. Make sure that the night temperatures are at least 55° F or above. Continue regular watering and fertilize your plant about every 3 weeks.
You may find that you will have to prune your plant during the summer; you want it bushy, not leggy. You can start pruning in June or July, but be sure to stop by September 1st. If your plant is growing well you will want to transplant the poinsettia into a larger pot (not more than 3-4” bigger than the original pot), make sure you have it in a potting mix that drains well and has a nice quantity of organic matter in it.

Now comes the interesting part. In order to set bud and bloom around Christmas the plant needs to have longer nights earlier than might normally occur. Starting October 1st the plants need to be kept in total darkness for 14 hours each night. You can cover them completely with a large box, or if you have a completely dark room – put them there. For the months of October, November and December the plants need 6 – 8 hours of bright sunlight and night temperatures between 60 - 70° F. If you continue the regular water, fertilizing, and control their light, you could very well have re-blooming poinsettias for Christmas. Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work, any stray light can throw the plants off and… each cultivar is a little different and has a different requirement. But… hey, it’s a new challenge, a new project and worth a try – right?
Enjoy, and please let me know if you have any re-bloomers… I’d love to post your photos next year!

Visit me at my website: www.thegrassisalwaysgreener.net


How to Decorate With Plants For The Holidays

Everyone in the neighbor hood is stringing up lights, putting out blow up Santas and adding giant ornaments in the trees in their front yard. Do you really want to look like everyone on the block? How about taking a little time to add seasonal decorations with plants for a change.

Outdoor plants add color, texture, and drama to your house and if you plan a little you will have less and less to do each year. To decorate with plants you need some basic plant knowledge – light requirements, water requirements, and whether your plants are annuals, perennials or shrubs. Grouping your plants using this knowledge along with placement is the key to a successful decorating plan.

Create a colorful entryway to your home with strategically placed pots of flowering plants. If you have steps, decorate each step with outdoor plants that blooms throughout the season. If you don’t have steps, you should alternate sides of the entry and/or place them atop decorated cinder blocks to create varying heights.

An easy arrangement starts with a geranium, surrounded by Cyclamen or Christmas cactus. You can edge the pot with ivy or other draping plant for more texture. Adding annual color that will coordinate the blooms for the different seasons is a great trick.

If you want privacy you can plant clumps of ornamental grass in strategic locations to add a sense of dimension and depth then place seasonal perennials and some annual color in front of the grasses.

For the shadier areas of Santa Clarita use some coleus or caladium for a nice a splash of color. They come in a huge variety of colors and are a great filler or backdrop.

Another cute plan ahead decoration is to plant spring bulbs in a pattern or design. You can plant early blooming crocus in a heart for Valentine’s Day or use red, white and blue tulips to create a flag to bloom for Memorial Day.

Don’t forget to add some plants to spark up the inside of your home. For a centerpiece, use plants with colorful foliage or blooms. If you group several in a container, cover the pots with sphagnum moss or Spanish moss for a finished look. You can add seasonal ornaments (and change them as needed) and the arrangement can take you from Halloween through Valentines Day.


How to Find the Best Day Lily and Iris Plants in Southern California

It’s late fall, almost winter and living in Southern California means that I can still install landscape designs for my fabulous clients. Thanksgiving has gone and although there are plenty of things to spend money frivolously on people’s budgets today beg for a good value for the hard earned money we have. So this week I am spending time with a wonderful client, Jeannie as we spruce up her already beautiful home by clearing away the weeds and putting in a beautiful, colorful, medium maintenance garden design. We have spent a good deal of time together and she knows that she is going to have to ask for help occasionally and that I am here for her questions.

Monday was the main nursery selection day, and although it was windy – it was beautiful weather and my cart driver and plant puller Freddie was a great help at the growing grounds. I am so lucky to have great people to work with at all the nurseries that I visit.

Yesterday was however my favorite plant pick up day. I have the good fortune of having found Greenwood Day Lily Gardens in Somis, CA. and use them whenever possible. They have the best day lily, iris, canna, and pelargoniums (to name a few) plants around and the drive out to Somis is awesome! Cruising out the 126 with KCRW on the radio, I am in heaven.

It is a stress free beautiful trip and I arrive at my destination relaxed and happy. I am glad to note that John (owner of Greenwood) has his fall piles of mulch ready to be spread around his fields. He is a big proponent of twice yearly mulching and his plants certainly are happier for it.

After a visit with Javier and his pal Bon Bon, I’m headed back home.

But as I pull out of the driveway I spy some beautiful horses walking down a ridge, so I decided to visit. Some of them are quite friendly and I am happy to see that although they may flatten their ears at one another, they are inquisitive enough to see if I might have some food.

After a few minutes petting them and visiting, I am back on the road with my beautiful load of Day Lily, Iris, Geraniums, and a few Pelargoniums that I can use as gifts.

I am SO lucky to be able to spend two hours in the car and actually enjoy every minute of it!

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